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J. M. N. Jeffries 




Westport, Connecticut 

A volume in the Hyperion reprint series 


Published in 1939 by Longmans, Green and Co., London 

Hyperion reprint edition 1976 

Library of Congress Catalog Number 75-6440 

ISBN 0-88355-327-9 

Printed in the United States of America 

Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data 

Jeffries, Joseph Mary Nagle, 1880- 
Palestine : the reality. 

(The Rise of Jewish nationalism and the Middle East) 

Reprint of the 1939 ed. published by Longmans, Green, 

London, New York. 

Bibliography: p. 

1. Palestine — History — 1917-1948. 2. Jewish- Arab 
relations 19 1 7-1949. 3. Zionism — Controversial literature. 

I. Title. 11. Series. 

DS126.J37 1976 956.94’04 75-6440 

ISBN 0-88355-327-9 

Palestine: The Reality 


Palestine: The Reality 



I. “For what have you to do with me, O Tyre, and Sidon, and all the 
coasts of the Philistines?” — Joel, iii. 4 

II. The Great Arab race — The possession of Palestine necessary for 
its expansion 

III. The Zionist movement an intrusion upon a previous Arab 

movement — The modern Arab renaissance — The Arab 

preparations to overthrow Turkish rule in Syria and to re-establish 
the old Arab State 

IV. The Jews in Palestine — Misuse of the term “exile” — Did they 
survive in Palestine? — The two Zionisris — Early Zionists — Herzl 
and political Zionism — Refusal to be aware of the Arabs 

V. The Powers and the Arab National Movement — The Headship of 
the Movement shifts to Mecca — The Shereef Hussein — The Emir 
Abdullah’s visit to Kitchener — War between Britain and Turkey — 
British negotiations for Arab support begin 

VI. The Treaty between Great Britain and the Arabs — Arab 
independence to be recognized and supported within frontiers 
including Palestine 

VII. The Progress of Zionism — Weizmann, Balfour, Sir Herbert 
Samuel appear — Zionist approaches to Asquith, Lloyd George and 
Grey — Another Man cheste School — The first false step — The 
Grey Memorandum 

VIII. Preparations for the Arab revolt — How the Arabs died in Syria — 
Feisal and Djemaal — The revolt starts — The Sykes-Picot treaty 
— The Zionist “October Programme “ — Political Zionism made 
“a complex problem” — Political Zionism made “a small nation” 

IX. Political Zionism’s first “official” steps in London — Brandeis and 
Balfour — Lawrence and British pledges — Jewry versus Zionism — 
First arrangements for the Mandate — Jewish opposition in the U.S. 
to Zionism — France’s recognition 

X. How the “Balfour Declaration” was written — Its real authors — 
Tactics of Justice Brandeis — The “Brandeis regime” — Jewish 
opposition in England — Publication of the Declaration 

XI. Analysis of the Balfour Declaration — Its sham character and 
deceptive phraseology 

XII. Illegitimacy of the Declaration — The motives for issuing the 
Declaration — The Declaration as payment for services rendered 

XIII. First consequences of the Balfour Declaration — Mr. Ormsby-Gore 
appears on the scene — Allenby’s campaign — The Arabs’ exact 
part in it — Allenby leaves the Balfour Declaration unpublished in 
Palestine — The reasons for this 

XIV. The Zionist Commission in Palestine — Close of the War — The 

Arabs’ military achievement — The Joint Anglo-French 

Proclamation promising Independence to the Arab populations 

XV. Proposals for making Palestine “a Jewish country” approved by 
Balfour — Zionist preparation for the Peace Conference — The 
siege and investment of Feisal — The “Treaty of Friendship “ — The 
“Frankfurter letter” 

XVI. The Peace Conference — The Zionist role there — Feisal’s vain 
speech — Weizmann enounces Zionist demands — ’’Palestine to be 
as Jewish as England is English” — The private meeting of the 
“Big Four” at Mr. Lloyd George’s flat — Mr. Lloyd George and the 
Hussein-McMahon treaty — President Wilson insists on sending a 
commission to find the desires of the Syrians 

XVII. The first Arab parliament — Feisal summons the Syrian 
Congress — The “Damascus Programme” — The Crane-King 

Commission’s Report 

XVIII. Importance of the Damascus Programme and Crane- King 
Report — The Crane-King Report suppressed — Syria divided 
between France and Britain — Another letter of Feisal’s — The 
Zionist Commission takes governmental attributes to itself — 
Resentment and vain appeals to London of the Army 

XIX. The Emir Feisal proclaimed King of Syria — He asks for 
recognition of Syrian independence by the Allies and cites the 
McMahon-Hussein pact — Fall of the Kingdom of Syria — Arabs 
and Jews clash in Palestine — The Chief Administrator of Palestine 
tells Mr. Lloyd George some truths about the country 

XX. The San Remo Conference — The covert assumption of the 
Mandate for Palestine by the Prime Minister — Mandatory 
Government illicit as no Mandate yet possible-Governmental 

Palestine: The Reality 











secrecy, and its reasons — Dr. Weizmann blurts out the aims of the 
Premature Mandate 

Mr. Lloyd George violates the Covenant of the League of 
Nations — The Chief Administrator of Palestine recommends the 
suppression of the Zionist Commission — Intervention of the 
United States against monopolies in Palestine — Parliament 
uninformed and unconsulted upon the Mandate — End of the 
Military Administration in Palestine — The Army judges political 

The first High Commission of Palestine — Sir Herbert Samuel — 
The Prime Minister’s equivocation — The Treaty of Sevres — The 
Covenant again violated — The farcical frontier of Palestine — 
President Wilson’s “bomb-shell” letter 

The “Civil Government” of Palestine set up in 1920 an unlawful 
government — Violation by the Lloyd George Cabinet of Great 
Britain’s pledges at The Hague — Proofs of the illegitimacy of the 
Palestine Government 

Ersatz Israel 

The granting of the Rutenberg Concessions — Suffocation of other 
applicants by the Government — The real aim of Zionist 
Concessions — The Arabs given no say in the matter 

Governmental apologia for the grant of the Rutenberg 
Concessions — A plot against the Arabs — Balfour's negotiations in 
the United States reveal this — His suppressed paragraphs — He 
cajoles the Secretary of State in Washington 

The Perfidy of the Government 

Other endeavours to justify the Government's broken faith to the 
Arabs — Their refutation from official sources — Great Britain 
absolutely pledged to establish Arab government in Palestine 

XXXI. The manoeuvre of “fidelity to the Mandate” — The Mandate really 
written by Zionists in collaboration with the Government — The 
League of Nations deliberately prevented from fixing its terms 

XXXII. The text of the Mandate — Its important Articles all of Zionist 

XXXIII. The stage -fight between Government and Zionists — The theory of 
two primary “obligations” — The Council of the League plays 
traitor — The responsibility of the League in the Palestine affair 

XXXIV. The years from before 1923 are those which matter in the 
Palestine Question — Irrelevance and insincerity of the argument 
that Zionism means prosperity — Abdication of King Hussein — 
The Mavrommatis case — The Government impeached at last and 
found guilty 

XXXVII. The White Paper of 1930 — Mr. Ramsay MacDonald surrenders to 
Dr. Weizmann — The “Black Letter” — The Report of Mr. 
French — The growing peril of the Arab peasant being 
dispossessed for ever 

XXXVIII. Increase of Zionist immigration — The pretext of refuge from the 
German persecution — How the Legislative Council was rejected — 
The Great Strike of 1936 — The Arab Officials’ Memorial — 
Resignation of the Chief Justice — The Peel Commission’s Report 
and project of Partition — Private arrangements of Mr. Ormsby- 
Gore and Dr. Weizmann 

XXXIX. League “neutrality” in the Palestine question — The Palestine 
Government dissolves the Arab Higher Committee and exiles 
leaders — The Mufti escapes to the Lebanon — The Technical 
Commission leaves for Palestine — Mr. Malcolm MacDonald 
succeeds Mr. Ormsby-Gore — Foreign interference in Palestine — 
The Galilee-Sanjak-of-Alexandretta campaign — Awaiting the 
Woodhead Report 

The achievement of the Arab delegates in 1921-2 — Subterfuges of 
the “White Paper” — Lord Northcliffe in Palestine — The House of 
Lords censures the Cabinet's infidelity — The Treaty of 
Lausanne — Th Mandate comes into force at last 

The drafting of the Covenant — The shifts of General Smuts — 
Article 22 drafted so as to evade its own ends — The fate of the 
Vesnitch amendment 

XL. Valuelessness of any solutions of the Palestine Question not 
granting independence to the Arabs — Impossibility and 
wrongfulness of any turning of Palestine into a Colony or 
Dominion — The question of our strategic needs in and round 
Palestine — The only settlement — The honour of Great Britain at 

Palestine: The Reality 



Though the world of to-day, in these last months of 1938, has much for 
which to be ashamed, there is nothing in it so shameful as the condition of 
Palestine. From end to end the Holy Land has been running with blood. 
Evening after evening the voice of the wireless announcer has brought news of 
another combat, another ambush, another assassination perhaps, on the soil 
once pressed by the feet of Christ. 

Yet the more we are grieved by these events, the more it is incumbent upon 
us to examine into the causes which have produced them. Political murder, in 
particular, is a product of the extreme degrees of exasperation. Though nothing 
condones it, yet ere it becomes common in any State something must have been 
thoroughly wrong with that State, and wrong for a considerable time, and all 
reasonable means of procuring redress of what was wrong must have been 
found worthless. 

Unhappily that is what has occurred in Palestine. The Arabs, the people of 
that country, are suffering from a supreme injustice. We have abstracted from 
them the control of their own destinies and by force of arms have imposed upon 
them a multitude of undesired immigrants and an alien system of life. For 
twenty years now they have essayed every form of pacific appeal to have this 
injustice remedied. Interviews and petitions, mass-meetings, public 
pronouncements, protests to the League of Nations, repeated embassies to 
England, all have been tried. All of them have failed. Not only have the Arabs’ 
petitions not been granted, but of what was fundamental in them consideration 
itself has been refused. They have never been allowed to place their full case 
before any national or international Court in the world, with a right to win a 
verdict upon the facts. 

A principal reason for this is that in the first instance the Arabs’ case has 
remained unheard before the court of public opinion. If they had won their suit 
there, a just settlement would have been imposed elsewhere. But the Arabs 
have never been able to make their full case known to the public, especially in 
Great Britain, where it was so important that it should have been known. 

The aim of the present book is to give this case as amply as possible. It is a 
history of what really happened in Palestine and of what was done concerning 
Palestine from the days of the War till now. 

That the book comes after such a long time, at what seems such a late stage 
of the conflict, is not because of any accident or any remissness. It is because of 
the primary handicap upon the Arabs and their defenders. The Arabs of 
Palestine are a small body, living far from this country and having perforce — 
since they are Arabs — none of their race in positions of influence in Great 
Britain. On the other hand, their opponents in the matter have been constituted 
by a series of British Governments themselves and by the extremely influential 
members of the Zionist organizations, who either live in this country or are 

constantly visiting it. These Zionists and their British backers hold prominent 
positions in Parliament, in the Press, in the social and in the professional and 
commercial spheres of our national life. So that from voices which are fa mi liar 
in their varying degrees and respected in their varying degrees the public has 
heard over and over everything that is to be said for political Zionism, for the 
theory, that is, which establishes Jews by main force, not as a religious but as a 
political entity, in the Holy Land. 

From the Arabs the British public has heard little, despite all the endeavours 
the Arabs themselves have made to present their cause. How could it be 
otherwise? The lonely groups of men, whom their countrymen have sent so 
often to our shores to plead for them, have never obtained in the newspaper or 
upon the platform one thousandth part of the space or of the time which they 
needed to say all that they had to say. They had a great deal to say, because as 
time went on what is called the “Palestine Question” became increasingly 

Any first-class political question grows intricate if it is left without an effort 
to solve it for a number of years. It grows particularly intricate when one of the 
parties to the affair finds refuge in this passage of the years, taking advantage of 
all the secondary issues naturally or artificially produced during them to cloud 
the main issue that was clear at the beginning. There becomes so much to speak 
about, so much to controvert and so many falsely raised issues to pursue that a 
vast deal of time and of space presently would be needed by the other party to 
accomplish this. But time and space on such a scale have been quite 
unprocurable. To give the full Arab case the newspapers of Britain would have 
had to turn themselves into political documents dealing with the Levant. 
Anybody can see that was impossible. 

So that the Arab delegates who came to England never had a chance in 
reality to do anything but encounter the stone wall of ministerial obstinacy, to 
address a few drawing-room and Rotary Club meetings and to have inadequate 
pamphlets distributed here and there. The situation therefore was that while the 
British public was bound to hear a good deal, relatively, about the Palestine 
Question from Ministers and Zionists and their supporters, it heard, to all 
intents, nothing from the Arabs. 

Now we come to those from whom the public should have heard, in 
principle, something at some length upon the Arabs’ behalf, that is to say we 
come to British sympathizers with the Arabs. But here it is that the handicap 
upon the Arab cause is perceived even more distinctly. 

We who sympathize actively with the Arabs are a small group, a pitifully 
small group. We are bound to be a small group because knowledge of the Arab 
case, knowledge of the true facts concerning Palestine, was never to be 
acquired easily and ordinarily in England. 

It required special knowledge to be a champion of the Arab cause. This 
knowledge in general was only to be gained in Palestine itself, or by close 

Palestine: The Reality 


acquaintance with others who had been in Palestine, or through the study of 
evidence which practically remained private. 

So that we who were cognizant of the facts were necessarily few in 
numbers. We were a few ex-soldiers, some former officers and functionaries of 
the Administration in Palestine — a fact which had its significance — some 
dwellers in that country, some missionaries and teachers there, one or two 
journalists whose eyes had been opened there. Against us stood the 
Government of Great Britain and the Zionist societies with their ramifications 
throughout the universe. Against us stood the wealth used to spread the 
Governmental and the Zionist case. In comparison with this the Arabs were 
paupers, and we few who knew the justice of the Arab cause had to suffer all 
the impediments and heaped obstacles of their and of our own poverty in trying 
to reveal it. 

In consequence, though this book is as full as I can make it, it is not quite as 
full as it might be and as it should be. There is for example a great deal which 
should be divulged about the way in which political Zionism came to be 
espoused and the Arab case came to be put aside by the Government of the 
United States at the time of the Peace Conference. I was offered opportunities 
for investigation into this, what appeared to be singular opportunities, but I 
could not avail myself of them because I had not the money to go to the United 
States and to stay there the length of time which would have been necessary. 
For the same reasons I could not even return to Palestine before I began writing 
and then go on to Irak, though it can be imagined how much there is in that 
quarter still waiting to be investigated and to be read. 

It is not usual perhaps to mention personal affairs of this sort, but here they 
must be mentioned because of their political importance. We who are on the 
side of the Arabs are a group with a good deal of special knowledge, but 
without the funds to use it and to diffuse it as we should wish. In that we differ 
from our opponents, who when the spreading of their gospel is concerned, can 
talk in tens of thousands of pounds and in hundreds of thousands of dollars. 

By a natural sequence too we who should have wished to plead the cause of 
the Arabs have been as much without time to do so as we have been without 
funds. We have had no leisure: we have had our livings to make. That is why 
this book, which has demanded an entire seclusion in the subject and the 
abandonment of every other interest, has not appeared before. It was produced 
as soon as the bare possibility of producing it existed. 

Some other points need to be prefaced here. Readers will see that I have not 
dealt tenderly with certain statesmen and certain Governments of ours. There is 
no reason, to my mind, for euphemism, for saying that these men and these 
Cabinets were mistaken or ill-advised or pursued mere erroneous policy in 
Palestine, or foolishly accepted an unworkable Mandate. They did nothing of 
the kind. They pursued a policy involving fraud and perfidy. They tyrannously 
Palestine: The Reality 

withdrew from the Arabs the Arabs’ natural and inherent rights over their 
native land. They broke Britain’s word to the Arabs. To suit their aims in 
Palestine they gerrymandered as far as they could the Covenant of the League 
of Nations, and where they could gerrymander it no further they broke it. They 
falsified the Mandate. 

Later Governments have been less guilty. But they have committed their 
own sins of omission by not reconsidering the acts of their predecessors, and by 
continuing with a policy into the antecedents of which they have not inquired. 

These charges have to be made. The evidence which justifies them 
accompanies them. But it is painful to be obliged to make them, in particular 
under the actual circumstances of the world. It would be very short-sighted, 
however, at the present juncture to reason that this was not the moment to 
weaken our national prestige by disclosing the misdeeds of some of our rulers. 

The position is just the reverse. If in this hour free institutions are indeed 
imperilled, then there is nothing better than to give evidence of what free 
institutions allow and autocratic institutions forbid, that is, the right of the 
individual to arraign any Government for its improper employment of power. 
However distasteful too in one respect it may be to speak out, in every other 
respect, and in the overriding respect, not to speak out would be to miss a 
capital opportunity. Something more than an opportunity indeed is offered. It is 
a privilege of ours to-day, which we share with few, that in a Europe muzzled 
with self-conceit we in England still can tell the truth about ourselves. Only as 
long as we tell it are we free. It is the proof itself of liberty. When we leave the 
telling of it to the foreigner our day will be over. 

Besides, this Palestine question tarnishes every effort of Britain for good in 
other directions. The British public is not aware how much our doings in 
Palestine are discussed in other lands, and what a savour of hypocrisy they 
convey to our most genuine impulses. How can we raise our voice in protest at 
the concentration-camps of Prussia when in Palestine we maintain our own? 
How can we denounce the expulsion of Jews by Germans when with equal 
arbitrariness we impose Jews upon Arabs? How can we cavil at men being kept 
in prison without trial, when we too have exiled, imprisoned and proscribed 
without trial? 

The excuse that in our case it is different, that we do what we do regretfully, 
in the interests of the Mandate which it is our duty to the world to carry out, is a 
sham excuse. We ourselves arranged for our Mandate, we and our friends gave 
it to ourselves, we and our accomplices in the Zionist policy composed its very 
terms, with the sole aim of enforcing this policy thereby. 

How that was done the reader will learn in this book. It is quite possible 1 
may be called an Antisemite for writing it. 1 must put up with that. But 1 have 
never had any truck with antisemitism, and I find the persecution of the Jews in 
Central Europe as crying a disgrace to humanity as their imposition upon the 
Arabs has been. There is nothing too which gives such a handle to the 


oppressors of the Jews elsewhere as the oppression by them and for them in 

As regards the subject-matter of the book, there are some points to make. It 
is a very long book, but it has to be long. Since the real history of Palestine for 
two decades has been kept hidden from the public, it is in a sense necessary 
here to recreate those lost twenty years, in as much of their detail as possible 
and with a little at least of the repetition of facts which occurred during those 
twenty years themselves. Half the facts 1 have to give have never been 
mentioned at all, many of the documents have never been quoted. 1 have 
therefore thought it necessary, for the sake of readers coming fresh to the 
subject, to make the more important points more than once. When it is 
remembered how the Arabs have suffered from silence upon everything, 
occasional repetition of some points can hardly be grudged, and really is 

The history of Palestine from the days of the War till now is sometimes, as 1 
have said earlier, intricate. It ought not to be intricate, because it is only the so- 
called “Palestine Question” which makes it intricate, and the Palestine Question 
ought not to be in existence. There was no Palestine Question, nor ever would 
have been one, if certain statesmen had not created it. Since it was thus 
unnaturally created, however, it tends at times to intricacy. The meaning of 
phrases has to be considered closely then, or the map has to be closely 

The men who created the Question, however, should not be able to escape 
being held to account by their agility in complicating our national books. If 
political personages can toy with treaties or wriggle out of pledges simply 
because the public will neither examine treaties nor analyse pledges, then the 
public has abdicated its control over government. 

The book deals principally with the story of how Palestine was placed under 
Mandatory government in order to establish the “Jewish National Home,” 
which later — it was intended — should become a Jewish State. It has been 
completed while the future policy of the Chamberlain Government in Palestine 
remains undefined. At the moment of revising it the Partition scheme inherited 
from the previous Government has been dropped. But it covers any other 
scheme which may replace Partition. Any such scheme, which does not 
recognize that we disregarded the rights of the Arabs and defaulted from our 
own engagements, and does not affirm that these rights henceforth shall be 
recognized and these engagements kept, will find its own condemnation in the 
history detailed herein. 

Even were the present Cabinet to perceive the virtue of confession, to 
reverse policy, and to start again in Palestine as we should have started twenty 

Palestine: The Reality 

years ago, even then this publication of the real story of those past years would 
be essential. Only thus could three things which call for demonstration be 
demonstrated; the need for reversal of policy; the justice of the Arabs’ 
demands; the guilt of those who have kept Palestine in misery for so long. 

Especially must the Arabs have the justice of their cause made clear. There 
must be no imputation lying upon them, should a proper settlement be reached, 
that they achieved it merely by resorting to insurrection, and that it was granted 
to them only for peace’s sake. 

I think it is right that the public should know the names of some of those 
who have kept the cause of the Arabs alive in Great Britain in the teeth of 
overwhelming opposition. Two motives have maintained their courage, when 
hope seemed farthest away. One was that a small country should never be 
downtrodden if they could help it. The other was that their own country should 
be true to her vows and to herself. 

Some of them spoke forth in Parliament. Lord Islington, Lord Sydenham, 
Lord Buckmaster, Lord Brentford, Lord Lamington, Lord Templetown — those 
are names the Arabs will never forget. Nor will they forget Sir Ernest Bennett, 
Mr. Somers Cocks, Sir Lrank Sanderson, Colonel Howard Bury, Colonel 
Clifton Brown, Lord Winterton, Sir Arnold Wilson, and among younger 
members of the Commons in more recent days, Mr. Anthony Crossley. These 
peers and members of Parliament did not all advocate just the same policy in 
Palestine: there were differences of application amongst them. But they all 
strove to present the Arab standpoint. The names of Lord Islington and Lord 
Sydenham will be particularly remembered for the force and the ability with 
which they combated Governmental policy. Neither was in his youth then: both 
were already retired from posts of high honour in overseas dominions and, in 
Lord Islington’s case, in a Cabinet. But in defending the forlorn Arab cause 
they refound their prime. They fought for Palestine and for England’s honour 
like crusaders, and indeed the ranks they led are engaged in the last Crusade. 

A tribute to Lord Northcliffe is paid in the text of this book. But there are 
others whose names are not likely to come before the public, who have taken a 
great part in the defence of the Arabs. Every soul in Palestine knows what Miss 
Prances Newton has accomplished on behalf of the land in which she had made 
her home for so many years. Everyone who has engaged in the defence of the 
Arab cause has owed something to her knowledge and to her inspiration. 1 am 
deeply in her debt. In Palestine her house upon Mount Carmel is, in the eyes of 
the Arabs, the true Residence of old British tradition. 

In London the Arabs’ defenders know the great work, the cardinal work 
done for many years by the late Miss Broadhurst and by Miss Parquharson, of 
the “National League.” In their eyrie over St. James’s Street Arabs and their 
British friends met and took counsel, learned of many a plan and an intrigue of 
their opponents which had not escaped the ever-vigilant eyes of their hostesses, 


and concerted resistance. It was the Arab fort and Arab embassy in one. Like 
others I always found there help, information, and enthusiasm, and great cause 
for gratitude. 

Another name I mention with respect and gratitude is that of Mrs. Steuart 
Erskine, one of the first to come to the rescue of our common cause with her 
book Palestine of the Arabs. Its title was a lesson in itself in the days when it 
was written. As Secretary of the “Arab Centre” in Victoria Street, Mrs. Erskine 
has worked unremittingly. Coupled with her are Mrs. Fox-Strangways, Mrs. 
Cecil Brooks, Miss Blyth and Mrs. Swinburne. 

In Palestine Mr. Nevill Barbour has used a very valuable pen, and I am 
indebted for a quotation from him in this very Introduction. Mr. Ernest 
Richmond and Mr. C. R. Ashbee, both of whom served under Administrations 
in Palestine, have written about that country in that particular direct and 
unsparing fashion which characterizes those who have had the closest inner 
acquaintance with the question. Professor Garstang of Liverpool University, 
who has conducted remarkable archaeological excavations in Palestine, has 
compiled along with the Bishop of Chichester a very telling pamphlet. 

Above all there is Lawrence’s old companion, Colonel S. F. Newcombe, 
whose courteous and conciliatory manner, expressed in plans of his own for a 
settlement, has never hidden his firm espousal of justice for the Arabs. 

A final point calls for introductory mention. It is one which in a sense lies 
outside the whole sphere of the present discussion, which treats of political 
matters. It is a religious consideration. Since many persons however judge the 
subject of Zionism solely from this standpoint, it is proper that it should be 

Those who take this view are moved by the fact that the return of the Jews 
to the Holy Land is an accomplishment of the prophecies of the Bible. Because 
of this they feel that no opposition of any sort should be made to this return. 
They do not like to criticize or to hear it criticized in any fashion. 

Most earnestly I beg of any who entertain such opinions to consider more 
carefully than they have done the attitude of those who defend the Arabs. 
Hardly any of us, certainly not I, oppose the return of Jews to Palestine. What 
we resist is a very different thing, the manner of their return and the extent of 
their return. The manner has been illegal and arrogant, the extent excessive. 

In any event, the reinstallation of Jews in Palestine cannot be said to be 
impeded or jeopardized by our actions, since the Jews have returned there. 
Everything calls for criticism in the whereabouts and style of their return, but 
that is their responsibility, not their critics’. As far as numbers go, at the close 
of the Great War there were some sixty thousand of them in residence, who had 
lived for the most part on terms of reasonable understanding, if not amity, with 
the native population. Most of them were recent comers, who had entered the 
country in the proper way, under its common law, as pilgrims or as settlers, 
Palestine: The Reality 

demanding no special status for themselves at the expense of that native 
population. Since then their totals have increased sevenfold. 

The additional three hundred and forty thousand and more, who have 
entered under our asgis, have been brought in arbitrarily. To all intents the 
Arabs have been tied by Great Britain to their doorposts while the Jews 
streamed past. Despite this, the Arabs — so regularly traduced as 
unreasonable — are willing so far to accept a compromise concerning them. It 
would be well, incidentally, not to strain over-strained Arab patience any 
further, and to take advantage of the willingness to compromise while it exists. 
Further obduracy in meeting the just claims of the Arabs will only drive the 
direction of their national movement into uncompromising hands. 

At present, however, they are willing to regard the great bulk of the 
immigrants as innocent and ignorant agents, who have come to Palestine 
thinking it was theirs, and they do not seek to expel them. The terms of the 
immigrants’ residence remain to be settled, but as long as they are content with 
the common rights of inhabitants and do not demand extravagant privileges 
such as territoriality and extra-territoriality at once, they should be able to stay. 
That means that 400,000, probably over 400,000, Jews are in Palestine and are 
not likely to leave it unless of their own free will. 

This fact is of great significance if considered in conjunction with the 
prophecies of the Bible. These prophecies are very numerous, spread through 
many of the books of the Old Testament. It will be enough to cite a couple of 
characteristic passages. In the eleventh chapter of the Book of Isaiah we read, 
“And it shall come to pass in that day that the Lord shall set His hand the 
second time to possess the remnant of His people, which shall be left from the 
Assyrians and from Egypt, and from Phetros and from Ethiopia and from Elam 
and from Senaar and from Emath and from the islands of the sea. And He shall 
set up a standard to the nations and shall assemble the fugitives of Israel and 
shall gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four quarters of the earth.” 

In the thirtieth chapter of Deuteronomy is found, “The Lord thy God will 
bring back again thy captivity (i.e. reverse the situation of thy captivity) and 
will have mercy on thee and gather thee again out of all the nations into which 
He scattered thee before. If thou be driven as far as the poles of heaven the Lord 
thy God will fetch thee back from thence. And will take thee unto Himself and 
bring thee into the land which thy fathers possessed, and thou shalt possess it, 
and blessing thee He will make thee more numerous than were thy fathers.” 

These prophecies to-day are accomplished. The four hundred thousand 
inmates of the Holy Land form a full remnant of the Jews in the world, whose 
numbers are very variously estimated from fourteen to sixteen millions. Only a 
remnant of these millions can return to Palestine. Till the second coming of 
Christ brings in the era of miracles and the limitations of our present human 
earth melt away, the settlement of all the Jews in that small and often sterile 
land would be quite impossible. Nor is there the slightest desire on the part of 


these millions to return. Out of three hundred thousand Jews, say, in Great 
Britain, less than two thousand have gone back to Palestine. Those who have 
returned there are preeminently the “fugitives of Israel” and the “dispersed of 
Judah” who have fled from those parts of Europe where they are depressed or 

In addition to promise of restoration, the prophecy of Deuteronomy declares 
that the restored Jews shall possess the land more numerously than their fathers. 
That too is accomplished, an accomplishment to which no attention at all has 
been drawn. 

The size of the Jewish population when it was in possession of parts of 
Palestine — for it was never in possession of the whole of Palestine — cannot of 
course be computed exactly. Biblical critics unite in discrediting some of the 
poetic totals which have been bequeathed to us by the remote Past. They speak 
of the numbers given as incredibly vast, of the “boundless extravagance” of the 
figures even of Josephus. 

Sir George Adam Smith, whose Historical Geography of the Holy Land 
remains the classic work upon that country and has reached twenty-five 
editions, has applied himself however to the question of Jewish population in 
Old Testament days. In another authoritative book of his, Palestine, after 
deducing from the bas-reliefs of the Assyrians that the Jews deported to 
Babylon were at the most 70,000 in number, after reminding his readers that 
some scores of thousands did not go into exile, and that during the long and 
prosperous reign of Manasseh the losses suffered under Sennacherib must have 
been made good, he draws this final conclusion. “We cannot therefore be far 
from the truth in estimating the Jewish nation at the end of the seventh century 
(before Christ) as comprising at least 250,000 souls.” This gives a reasonable 
average population upon which to calculate. 

If in deference to Adam Smith’s qualification “at least,” even 100,000 be 
added, which from the context is an exaggeration of this qualification, none the 
less even then in all reasonableness the Jews to-day in Palestine are “more 
numerous than their fathers,” and what was announced in Holy Writ has been 
accomplished. There can be no question of the Arabs or of those who sustain 
the Arabs’ rights impeding the fulfilment of a prophecy, since already it has 
been fulfilled. 

As Mr. Nevill Barbour points out, “There exists in Palestine to-day, as the 
result of fifty years of Zionist enterprise, a Jewish National Home, containing 
some three hundred and fifty thousand souls [written in 1936], which fulfils the 
purpose of a spiritual centre for Jewry. It is now possible for a Jew to be born in 
Palestine and pass through an all -Jewish kindergarten, school and university 
without ever speaking anything but Hebrew; to work on a Jewish farm or in a 
Jewish factory; to live in an all-Jewish city of 150,000 inhabitants; to read a 
Hebrew daily newspaper; to visit a Hebrew theatre and to go for a holiday- 
cruise on a steamer flying the Jewish flag.” This may, I think, fairly be 

described as a full and sufficient Jewish return to Palestine in accordance with 
the prophecies of the Scriptures. 

What the Arabs are resisting now is nothing but the demand of divers 
politically-minded secular Zionists that Jewish totals in Palestine should be 
extended by further additions. These additions, these increments to the extant 
Jewish population, vary with appetites from a few more hundred thousand to 
several millions. Dr. Weizmann proposes bringing another million and a half 
into the country during the next twenty years. All this stuffing of repletion is 
justified by nothing in the Scriptures. 

So much for those who deprecate defence of the Arabs’ rights because of its 
supposed “interference” with the prophecies. There is this too which they must 
remember. Under no circumstances can it be sustained that because of the 
prophecies of the Old Testament the Jews have a permit to return to Palestine 
arbitrarily and wrongfully, after the manner in which their own peccant leaders 
and certain British statesmen have forced entry for them. The standards of 
moral conduct cannot be set aside. Those who would use the authority of the 
Bible in order to perpetuate injustice in the Holy Land would provide an 
example never before seen of Scripture being quoted for the devil’s purpose. 

In fine, to suggest that the rights and the wrongs of the question between the 
Arabs and the Zionists must not be taken into consideration because the Jews 
are predestined to return to Palestine is equivalent to suspending right and 
wrong themselves. It is to imagine an impossible issue, to which, in order to 
fulfil the promises of God, the commandments of God do not apply. It is to 
make sin the means of salvation and to controvert Christianity. Therefore it is a 
doctrine which no Christian for a moment should permit himself to entertain. 

1 have thought it more convenient to refer throughout to persons by their 
more recently known designation when they have undergone a change of name, 
for example, 1 have spoken of “Lord Balfour” from the beginning, even when 
he was Mr. A. J. Balfour. On the other hand, extremely recent changes of name 
have been disregarded, for example, I have spoken of “Sir Herbert Samuel,” not 
Lord Samuel. Convenience has been studied: I have not followed any one rule. 
In quotations I have left names as they were given. 

Names in brackets following quotations identify the writers. Z.O.R. stands 
for Zionist Organization Report. 

Easthayes, Cullompton, Devon. J.M.N.J. 

We may see that our national follies and 
sins have deserved punishment; and if in this 
revelation of rottenness we cannot ourselves 
appear wholly sound, we are still free and true 
at heart, and can take hope in contrition. — 

Robert Bridges, The Spirit of Man. 

Palestine: The Reality 



“For what have you to do with me, O Tyre and Sidon, and all the coasts of the 

Phillistines?” — Joel iii. 4. 

In 1922 Lord Northcliffe, visiting Palestine and perceiving the results of our 
government there, declared that we were making a second Ireland of that 
country. What happened in succeeding years, and even more what has been 
happening of late, in 1937 and 1938, show that he spoke only too truly. All the 
mistakes and misdeeds which fed eternal discontent in Ireland and culminated 
in so much vain bloodshed and destruction there have been reproduced in 
Palestine. It is almost as though the Irish precedent, far from being kept in mind 
as a warning, had been remembered as a valuable example of success, and was 
being copied sedulously in every detail. 

But if this imitation of the worst policy is mentioned here, it is but to 
emphasize the fact that Palestine has less room in it for bad policy than even 
Ireland had. It is a very small place. 

There is a natural tendency to transmute the spiritual greatness of the Holy 
Land into physical largeness, and to ascribe wide acres to the locality where the 
horizons of the human race were opened by the Redeemer’s birth. Christianity, 
however, like its Founder, was born in a narrow dwelling. Palestine is closer in 
size to a county than to a country. Take a couple of Yorkshires and you would 
have the acreage of Palestine. Of its famous subdivisions Judaea is about the 
same size as Northumberland: neither Galilee nor Samaria is quite as big as 
Somerset. These comparisons too are made without reference to the number of 
persons living in these districts. Were settled areas only to be considered, 
traditional Palestine shrinks still further in comparison with the populous 
counties of England. In the epoch of its independence half of Judaea was desert: 
inhabited Judaea was not as big as Wiltshire. 

The length of Palestine, from Dan to Beersheba, is about 180 miles, about as 
far, say, as from London to Exeter, or to Hull. Its extreme breadth is seventy 
miles across, but for about half its span the breadth is rarely more than fifty 
miles from the Jordan to the sea, much the same distance as from Berwick to 
Edinburgh, not as distant as is Liverpool from Sheffield. Dean Stanley notes 
that “from almost every high point in the country its whole breadth is visible, 
from the long walls of the Moab hills on the east to the Mediterranean on the 

In the terms of the atlas, indeed, Palestine is little more than a stitch on the 
front of the vast mantle of Asia. Its exiguous size of course is not the measure 
of its importance. Yet when we read its history in the Old Testament, read of its 
kings and their kingdoms, we are reading local chronicles. And it must be 
remembered that local chronicles always expand automatically the territory 
with which they deal. They are like reading-glasses or microscopes which 
magnify things out of their actual dimensions. 

The reason for thus emphasizing this aggrandisement of the tiny area of 
Palestine is that there has been so much loose talk of settling therein great 
numbers of immigrants. Millions even have been proposed, a settlement which 
could only be achieved if the country was turned into something like one of 
those unnatural boxes in which expert nurserymen pack together seedlings for 
sale, and if every man were as artificially planted as his soil would be 
artificially tilled. 

Not only though is Palestine a tiny area, but it has never been a true 
administrative unit. Its uncertain boundaries are a proof of this. Its present 
northern boundary is one contrived in 1921, as a sequel to an Anglo-French 
convention, of which railway-routes formed the chief concern. This artificial 
frontier, separating the territory under British mandate from the territory under 
French mandate, for the first time enabled calculations to be made of the total 
superficies of Palestine, or rather of the Palestine thus constituted. 

Previously, to the north and to some extent to the east, no one could say 
where it began or ended. The creators and protagonists of the “National Home” 
themselves were not sure of the perimeter of the land in which it was to be 
established. There is an organ of theirs, a pamphletic publication named 
Palestine, which is an acknowledged herald of their cause in Britain. Mr. 
Sidebotham, the noted publicist, was its founder and he and other chief Zionist 
supporters among the Gentiles are fond of contributing to it. When the question 
of boundaries first arose, Palestine was quite clear about Palestine. It said that 
“Palestine has never, except for very brief periods, been a political unity, and 
hardly any definition of its geographical boundaries would agree in detail.” 

In the official Report of the Shaw Commission, issued in 1929, it was stated 
that “viewed in the light of the history of at least the last six centuries, Palestine 
is an artificial conception.” 

More explicit still was the declaration of the main authority in the realm 
upon boundaries and all other territorial qualities of States — the Foreign Office. 
In its pre-War handbook for the guidance of consular and diplomatic officials, 
the Historical Department of the Foreign Office enunciated that “in modem 
usage the expression ‘Palestine’ has no precise meaning, but is best taken as 
equivalent to Southern Syria.” 

These pronouncements should be remembered tenaciously by the reader. 
The reason for this is that a practice has been developed since the War of giving 
the name of “Syria” to the northern part alone of the country. That is to say, the 
French Mandated region from Tyre to the Turkish border is termed “Syria,” as 
though Palestine were not included in it. 

This is a mere deception, and a raw one at that, introduced to consecrate the 
scission of Syria into two at the end of the late war, and arbitrarily carried out 
in the interests of the two Mandatory Powers concerned, at the time of the 
Treaty of Versailles. 

Palestine: The Reality 


Ere then, and from the days of remotest antiquity Syria had been regarded as 
a natural unit embracing Palestine. In the fourth century before Christ 
Herodotus wrote, “this part of Syria is known by the name of Palestine.” Two 
thousand years ago “Joseph went up from Galilee out of the city of Nazareth 
into Judaea to the city of David which is called Bethlehem ... to be enrolled 
with Mary his espoused wife, who was with child,” in obedience to the local 
decree of “Cyrinus, the Governor of Syria.” Thus through the succeeding 
centuries was Syria cited as the country containing the whole littoral at the 
eastern end of the Mediterranean, down to modern times. One has but to look 
into any standard history or geography of pre-War date to see it so recorded: 

Syria [for example says Meiklejohn] is a long strip of high mountain 
country which stretches in an almost straight line from the Peninsula of 
Sinai to the Gulf of Scanderoon. A small district in the south is called 
Palestine or the Holy Land. 

Its well-defined boundaries, [says George Adam Smith] “the sea on 
the west, the desert south and east, the Taurus mountains on the north, 
give it a certain unity and separate it from the rest of the world. If it has 
not become a single country yet, it is obviously waiting to be one. 

When you look at the map, for preference a pre-War map before the treaty- 
tinkering began, you will see that Syria in shape is a sort of throat under the 
projecting chin of Asia Minor, and that it closes the eastern end of the 
Mediterranean. The birth, or spring, of the throat rises out of the desert borders 
of Egypt, some 120 miles away from the Suez Canal. 

The name “Syria” has been thought to be a corruption of “Assyria,” but 
scholars reject this derivation, and say that it comes from the more ancient 
Babylonian “Sun,” a word used three thousand years before the advent of 
Christ. It entered modern languages through Latin and originally it was not to 
be found in Arabic, though afterwards it made its way in. The reason for this is 
most instructive. In classic Arabic Syria is called “Ash Sham,” which means 
“The Left,” and the significance of this name is emphasized by its being given 
in addition to the capital city of the Country. Damascus (as we term it) also is 
designated by its inhabitants “Ash Sham.” Arabic speakers to-day, especially in 
Egypt, often call Syria “Barasham,” or “the Land of the Left.” 

The corresponding word in Arabic for “right” is “Yemen” (as we spell it), 
the word we use in English to indicate the south-western tip of Arabia. But the 
Arabic world also uses it in a more extensive sense, applying it in a general way 
to the whole peninsula. Traditionally the Arabs call the Arabian peninsula their 
right and the Syrian frontage to the Mediterranean their left, showing thereby 
that from of old the two lands have been the two integral wings of the Arab 

So therefore in the Arabic name of the country itself — and the Turks call it 
“Arabistan “ — we find implanted a refutation of the character which some of 

our politicians for their own purposes have sought to apply to it. They have 
amputated it: they belittle it. They would like Syria to be thought an enigmatic, 
scarce christened, ill-defined species of no-man’s-land, hardly worth a mention, 
subordinate to Palestine. For them, not surprisingly, the part is greater than the 

They have not scrupled even to justify such distortion of geography by 
invoking the sanctity of Palestine to eke out their pleas. By a quasi-clever 
confusing of moral with physical and political values, they have said Palestine 
was “no mere Arab province” but the greatest site in the world, overshadowing 
all around it. A specious piece of advocacy indeed, for that Bethlehem should 
be in a humble, “mere Arab province,” is a situation consonant with the spirit of 
Bethlehem. The sacred value of Palestine precludes the political value these 
same politicians would attribute to it. “My kingdom is not of this world.” 

No, it is Syria, not Palestine, which is the true unit deserving consideration, 
and Syria with Palestine in its breast, is Arab territory, inhabited by Arabs for 
thirteen centuries through good and through ill; “Ash Sham,” the left side of 
their body, the very half of themselves. 

That however is not the whole truth. This vast period of thirteen centuries is 
but the recent period of their immemorial habitation. They have held it thus 
long as “Arabs.” It is exactly thirteen hundred years since their forefathers won 
a great victory on the banks of the Yarmook against the Byzantine Empire, 
which had followed the Roman in the overlordship of the country. But the hosts 
who flowed in then welded with the ancient inhabitants, so that the Arabs of to- 
day do not represent a mere conquering race, but are the descendants of the 
peoples who lived in Palestine before the Israelites. We call them “Arabs,” but 
in that great concourse of their race which stretches from Alexandretta to 
Mecca and beyond there are many strains to be found, and their roots in the 
land are those from which history itself springs. 

It will no doubt be a great surprise to the average reader to learn that the 
Arabs preceded the Jews in Syria. Indeed ignorance of this fact, which is 
altogether too common, is a plank in the platform of the political Zionists. 

But the very name of the country discloses its un-Jewish character. 
“Palestine,” a word we have taken through Greek and Latin, is a variant of the 
Arabic “Filisteen,” which means the “abode of the Philistines.” In the Old 
Testament the prophets here and there use the word in varying forms. “Rejoice 
not thou, whole Philisria, that the rod of him that struck thee is broken in 
pieces. . . . Howl, o gate; cry, o city! all Philistia is thrown down.” (Isaiah, xiv. 
29, 31.) “Nations rose up and were angry: sorrows took hold on the inhabitants 
of Philistiim. Then were the princes of Edom troubled; trembling seized on the 
stout men of Moab; all the inhabitants of Canaan were made stiff.” (Exodus, xv. 
14, 15.) 

In the quotation from Exodus the word Canaan occurs. As Professor T. H. 
Robinson, a very great authority, says in his History of Israel, the name 

Palestine: The Reality 


“Canaanite is sometimes used as a generic term for pre-Israelite inhabitants of 
Palestine. ... It seems to include the Phoenicians,” The name which preceded 
“Palestine” in its various forms, or the principal of preceding names, was in this 
way “Canaan.” The word still survives as a surname amidst the un-Moslemized 
inhabitants of the country. It is an extraordinary boomerang-stroke of history, 
what the French call a retour des choses, that one of the ablest of the Arabs to- 
day writing in defence of his people’s rights should be Dr. T. Canaan. 

“The limits of Canaan”, says Genesis, “were from Sidon as one comes to 
Gerara, even to Gaza “ — the fruitful coastal plain in fact stretching south from 
Tyre and Sidon by Haifa and Carmel to the marches of Egypt. Different 
branches of the Canaanite inhabitants were fixed in the inland hilly regions. 
Amongst these were the Jebusites, who occupied Jerusalem, the site of their 
city lying outside the walls of the present city. 

It is the opinion of competent judges [declares a great scholar, Sir 
James Frazer] that the Arabic speaking peasants of Palestine are the 
descendants of the pagan tribes which dwelt there before the Israelite 
invasion, and have clung to the soil ever since, being submerged but 
never destroyed by each successive wave of conquest which has swept 
over the land. 

They are the veritable descendants of the Canaanites described in the 
Bible, of the Jebusites and of the Amorites. [says Sir Richard Temple] 
Originally they must have had a decided character of their own and a 
settled form of society. Their system may have been broken up by the 
Jewish conquest; but, as the students of Bible history will remember, 
they never yielded to Jewish influence. On the contrary, they often made 
their influence disastrously felt by the Jewish nationality. They were 
probably not converted in any large numbers in the early days of 
Christianity. In short they preserved their ancient idolatry up to the days 
of Mahomet. Then they were converted by the Arab soldiery to the faith 
of Islam, about twelve hundred years ago. In that faith they have 
remained to this day. . . . They cultivate the soil, chiefly as peasant 
proprietors, directly under the Turkish official who collects the land-tax. 
[Written in 1888.] They have extensive rights of grazing and of 
pasturage, on all which they pay their dues to the Turks. They are called 
Fellaheen, the same name as their fellow-subjects in Egypt. They till 
their fields and pay taxes to the Turk patiently, just as they did to the 
Saracen, to the Arab, to the Roman, to the Greek, to the Persian, to the 
Assyrian — probably also as they did to the Jew. After the Jewish 
conquest they must often have become tenants of their lands under the 
Jew as landlord. They probably performed the labour in the fields, even 
if the Jews worked in the vineyard and in the orchard. 

The Canaanites, Jebusites and Amorites of whom Sir Richard Temple 
speaks were three out of seven indigenous races who, “according to tradition 
dating back at least to the latter half of the seventh century before Christ” 
(Robinson), occupied the land before the Jews came. But, as has just been 
explained, Canaanite is considered more of a generic term for them all than 
anything else. Of the others the Amorites and the Hittites were the more 
important, particularly the Amorites, who mainly occupied the country south of 
the plain of Esdraelon. The Hittites were to the north. Professor Robinson 
opines that the Amorites emerged, not later than the beginning of the third 
period of a thousand years before Christ, from the Arabian peninsula. They 
“mingled so completely with their predecessors that their identity was lost in 
most districts.” They formed the true Semitic type, and have transmitted their 
features to their descendants the Arabs. 

Such a tenure it is, held in a simple, faithful, laborious way since man 
emerged from the mists of the unknown, probably the simplest and longest 
tenure in the world, that we are now finding the means to disintegrate. The 
Israelites, for the sake of one thirty-fifth of whose descendants we are engaged 
on this scurvy business, entered the lands of the indigenous peoples at a date 
which cannot be determined exactly. “The general tendency of the dates at our 
disposal is in favour of a Fourteenth Century (before Christ) date for the 
Conquest, but the margin of probability is very small.” (Robinson.) 

On this basis the Israelites came one thousand five hundred years or so after 
the Amorites. The Philistine cities of the coastal plain had been established 
somewhere about a century to a century and a half before then. At first the 
Israelites entered the hills peacefully in small numbers. Then they took up arms 
and the warfare began which is chronicled in the Old Testament. 

These are very ancient affairs, but it is necessary to deal with them in some 
measure before turning to modem events. The reason for this is that the Zionists 
of to-day have been introduced into Palestine under colour of their ancestors’ 
possession of that land. It is convenient to examine this plea, in some part at 
least, while the first data of the country are being supplied. 

The relevant section of the Palestine Mandate declares that, through the 
institution of the Mandate itself and the special character which it bears: 

recognition has thereby been given to the historical connection of the 

Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their 

national home in that country. 

“Historical connection” — that is what is used to justify the establishment of 
the “National Home” and all that has resulted from it. There are two points 
from which it can be considered: (1) Why should remote historical connection 
confer any right to territory some eighteen and a half centuries after Jewish 
power ended; and (2) If remote historical connection is to be regarded as 

Palestine: The Reality 


conferring rights, what sort of historical connection was there with the land in 
which this national home was to be reconstituted? 

The second point really contains the first, since any value there might be in 
this plea of Palestine being the historic patrimony of the Jews must be 
considerably affected by the character of their occupation when they were 
there. Yet nothing contrasts so much with the free hand given to the Zionists in 
the Holy Land as the entire disregard of this point by those who were 
responsible for giving them this free hand. Everything to do with the “National 
Home” was left purposely in the most obscure state by the politicians who 
engineered its creation. 

No word was uttered by them to disclose which phase of the very varied 
Jewish past in Palestine the Zionists were to reconstitute. The probability of 
course is that “The Principal Allied Powers,” the junta which, seated round a 
table at the San Remo Conference of 1920, introduced the establishment of the 
“National Home” as an obligation of the Mandate, knew and cared nothing 
about any such phases. I should not credit the Principal Allied Powers, as far as 
they found form in flesh and blood at San Remo, with much or any reading of 
the Scriptures, except indeed the important section of the Principal Allied 
Powers which came from Criccieth in North Wales. That body politic has stated 
in a speech, “1 was brought up in a school where 1 was taught far more about 
the history of the Jews than about the history of my own land. 1 could tell you 
all the kings of Israel but 1 doubt whether 1 could have named half a dozen of 
the kings of England. . . . We were thoroughly imbued with the history of the 
Hebrew race in the days of its greatest glory.” 

Mr - . Lloyd George seems to have been imbued rather too much with greatest 
glory for any of his impregnation to have filtered into geographical definition of 
the “National Home” by himself or by his compeers. Yet there would seem to 
have been the most obvious need of such definition because between the days 
of Joshua and the final victory of the Romans under Titus the Jewish holdings 
in Palestine expanded, and then contracted, like a concertina in play. For a good 
period they slipped from Jewish grip altogether. So that in order to reconstruct 
them, it would have appeared the essential first step to discover and to delineate 

It was decided otherwise, though, at San Remo or, more probably, in the 
manner of the Principal Allied Powers, attention discreetly was not directed to 
the matter. The Zionists were left to reconstruct wheresoever they liked west of 
the Jordan. It is a significant testimony to the genuineness of the transaction. 

This renders it needful, however, for anyone trying to treat the whole 
business seriously to pay some attention to the extent and to the duration of 
Jewish territorial possession of Palestine. It may seem to be challenging all 
traditions to say that it was ephemeral, but that is what it was. It was ephemeral 
and inextensive. Only during the reigns of David and Solomon did anything 
like Jewish possession of what we call Palestine exist. Eight hundred years 

afterwards the Maccabees re-established the Jewish power which had faded 
with Solomon, but only for a short spasm did it perhaps reach again the 
dimensions of David’s and Solomon’s days. 

Before David the settlement of the twelve tribes by Joshua was purely 
nominal. “Joshua assigned territory to tribes which they could not fill.” (Belloc, 
in The Battle-Ground.) Biblical research discredits the power and the 
hegemony of the tribes. “In Judges v,” says Professor Robinson, “there are 
significant omissions. Of the four senior Leah tribes Reuben only is mentioned. 
Our evidence suggests that Simeon and Levi disappeared at an early period,” 
and again “Verse 19 of Judges i. (‘And the Lord was with Judah and he 
possessed the hill-country, but was not able to destroy the inhabitants of the 
valley, because they had many chariots armed with scythes’) tells us that the 
lower land was not taken.” The tribe of Judah itself is not included amidst the 
victorious tribes in the canticle of Deborah in the later fifth chapter of Judges. 
“We can only suppose that it was not yet fully recognized as an Israelitish 
tribe.” “The early history of the tribe of Judah is even more obscure than that of 
most of the others, and we have to wait till the time of David before we have 
unmistakable evidence of its existence and of its self-consciousness.” 

The tribes named as by the sea were there in a situation of dependence and 
there is no proof of their being in any numbers. The coastal cities held sway 
over the plain of Esdraelon. “Sometimes the guardianship was so effective and 
close that Israel was denied the use of the main roads altogether, and the 
tribesmen had to creep by unfrequented by-ways and crooked paths from one 
place to another if they wished to cross the forbidden land.” (Robinson.) 

When Saul established his kingdom, he never obtained possession of the 
plain of Esdraelon, and he was indeed so little master in his own hills that the 
Philistines had a fortress looking down on the Jordan Valley. There is no 
evidence that David himself conquered the Esdraelon plain, no direct evidence. 
The nearest is supplied by recent archaeological excavation which has found 
traces that the strong place of Bethshean was destroyed by fire round about the 
year 1,000 B.C. Inferentially it is clear though that the plain must have been 
open to David, since it formed the turn-table of routes to his outlying 
possessions. He may have held it in some sort of condominium with the 
Philistine cities. At the apogee of his rule after fighting them he had grown to 
such terms with the Philistines that his own personal forces or life-guards were 
drawn from a sort of Foreign Legion of the Arabs’ ancestors. “In addition to his 
national levy, David had at least the nucleus of a standing army. It is interesting 
to observe that its main strength was drawn from foreign sources, for the 
Cherethites and the Pelethites were almost certainly Philistines, and they not 
only formed the mainstay of David’s personal force, but their presence in the 
ranks of Solomon went far to secure his accession. They were to David what 
the Praetorian Guard were to Roman Emperors.” (Robinson.) 

Palestine: The Reality 


Since King David forms a pedestal of Zionist claims, he being considered as 
it were an ancestor of modern Zionists, equal connection between that far 
yesterday and to-day must be granted to the Arabs. The pedestal of Zionist 
claims reigned by support of Arab troopers. Arabs in large part gave his throne 
to Solomon. 

The effect of these considerations need not be emphasized. But, without 
pursuing them, granting for argument’s sake that David won power over 
Esdraelon, to which his son succeeded, to what a tiny span this reduces the 
Israelite possession of Palestine. David reigned for about forty years, from 
somewhere round 1016 B.C. Solomon succeeded him and reigned as long. 
After these two all collapsed. It will have taken David a good part of the earlier 
half of his reign to reach the maximum of his power, and Solomon well before 
the end of his reign had begun to sell or lose part of his possessions. Let ten 
years be deducted, and that is as little as can be deducted reasonably, from the 
total David-Solomon period of rule. Then seventy years remain. 

It was only during those meagre seventy years that the Jews held something 
like two-thirds of Palestine, and there is doubt enough of that. “It is probable,” 
says Wade in his Old Testament History, “that only in the neighbourhood of 
Joppa (the modem Jaffa) did David’s empire touch the sea. North of this the 
Phoenician towns of Tyre and of Sidon were left unmolested, while in the south- 
east the Philistines, though crippled, maintained their independence.” 

Dean Stanley crystallizes the position when he says, “Palestine reverses the 
usual situation wherein the aborigines are driven into the hills. The Jews 
conquered the hills but failed to take the plains.” 

In this seventy-year empire there was little territorial basis or unity. David 
within his small limits — “120 miles at longest and 60 at widest and often much 
less” are the limits Mr. Belloc assigns to the Jewish State at its most prideful — 
was something of an Austro-Hungarian monarch occupying the throne while 
Austria and Hungary fought each other. 

Even David on two critical occasions seems to have saved his throne 
by playing off the one (the North or Israel and the South or Judah) 
against the other, and it is noticeable that when Judah rose against him he 
received the support of the other tribes and vice-versa. It is clear that the 
ideal unity was far from being achieved in his lifetime, and the policy of 
Solomon, so far from cementing more firmly the two parties, tended 
rather to emphasize the distinction between them and to widen the 
original breach. It is then hardly surprising that, when the North found 
the burden of the House of David intolerable, the South should have 
taken the opposite side and maintained its allegiance to Rehoboam. 

From that time onward, though there was a certain sense of unity as 
against the rest of the world, that feeling never found expression in a 
single political organization. There were periods in the history of the 
divided kingdom when the two sections worked together in harmony, 
Palestine: The Reality 

though North was the dominant partner, and we may suspect that the co- 
operation of the South was not wholly voluntary. But down to the time 
when the kingdom of Israel came to an end and the Samaritan territory 
was incorporated as a province of the Assyrian Empire, there does not 
seem to have been a single point at which the possibility of a formal 
reunion entered men’s minds. [There was a sense of kinship, of oneness, 
but] the fundamental basis of this sense of oneness lay less in the 
common descent than in the common religion. The Judaean had always 
stood apart from the Ephraimite. 

Reviewing David’s reign, Professor Robinson continues: 

David, as it were, collected and laid in place the material for a noble 
kingdom which might have been expanded into an empire. But it 
inevitably lacked that cement of habituation which time alone could 
supply, and for its endurance it needed a succession of rulers who would 
maintain his spirit and carry on his traditions. But the two kings who 
immediately followed him were cast in another mould, with the result 
that first the outlying portion fell, and then, at the touch of a real test, the 
whole fabric crumbled away. . . . The bubble was pricked and the house 
of David was left with territories scanty and infertile in themselves, 
suffering from the ravages of despotism and of war. 

How far these territories shrank is well shown by another historical 
authority, Dr. Foakes Jackson of Cambridge University, in his Josephus and the 
Jews. Commenting upon the silence of Herodotus, “the most persistent and 
inquisitive of globe-trotters,” concerning the Jews, he says 

The silence of Herodotus is still a problem to some, but its solution is 
perfectly simple. Judaea was so small a district and its inhabitants were 
so insignificant that the most intelligent traveller in the fifth century B.C. 
(the date of Herodotus) might even visit what was then called Syria- 
Palestine, or Syria of the Philistines, and never hear of the Jews. In the 
time of Nehemiah (a contemporary of Herodotus) Jerusalem must have 
been a very insignificant city in which the inhabitants of the 
neighbouring villages were only with difficulty persuaded to dwell; and 
no place mentioned in his Book as Jewish was much more than ten miles 
away. As the prophet says, it was “the day of small things”. What is 
more remarkable than the insignificance of the Jews in Palestine in the 
days of Nehemiah (445M32 B.C.) is that their territory remained 
restricted, nor do they seem to have multiplied in the country for nearly 
three centuries. The Temple at Jerusalem increased in splendour and 
probably the city in population, but the Jews did not become a power in 
the land till nearly the middle of the second century before Christ. [The 
Maccabee period.] They were no doubt numerous in Babylonia and 
Egypt, but in Palestine they were well nigh negligible. 

In his The Battle-Ground Mr. Belloc says of the tiny plot of Judah, “How 
small it was can best be seen in this; that a man walking out from Jerusalem 
eastward or northward or westward would have reached its boundaries in a 
morning. It was not a dozen miles in any direction before he was out of the 
district which the chieftain, the petty so-called ‘king’ of Jerusalem claimed to 
govern.” “It was a poor handkerchief of a realm.” 

It would be easy enough to emphasize this point with further quotations 
from further sources, old and new, but the truth of the matter is sufficiently 
clear. Jewish tenure of Palestine, in any real sense of the word “Palestine,” was 
never complete and it only lasted continuously, within its limits, for seventy 
years. It lasted, this vaunted possession, for no longer than the lifetime of one 
man, and that was three thousand years ago. Under the Maccabees it was a still 
shorter possession, some fifty years at the most between Simon and Alexander 
Jannaeus. But the Maccabees really ruled as High Priests, and the essential 
quality of Judaism, that it was religious and not territorial, was emphasized 
under them by the action of Eleazar. He called on the Maccabee John Hyrcanus 
to divest himself of his priesthood, his true quality at the head of the Jews, 
because of Hyrcanus ’s very absoiption in the unbecoming secular conquest of 
lands and cities. 

If we turn, then, bearing all this in mind, to compare the Arab historic 
situation in Palestine with the Jewish historic situation there, what a contrast 
between the two there is. The Arab possession began five thousand years ago 
and has never ceased. It has been the most thoroughgoing possession of all 
possessions, one which had its own share of conquest, and its lengthy dominion 
where the Israelite power came and glittered and buzzed for a gnat’s span and 
was gone, but it has been above all possession by uncounted generations of 
peasants. The passing centuries have given them different names, as one strain 
after another was absorbed into them, but Amorite, Canaanite, Philistine, Arab, 
it has been the labouring stock of each and of all which has held the soil, and by 
that tenure their present representatives, the Arabs, claim Palestine to-day. 

Peasants as they were, and pagans for so long, it is not to be assumed that in 
every aspect the Arabs’ ancestors represented barbarism in contrast to Israelite 
civilization. The Phoenicians were the traders and the voyagers of the ancient 
world, who reached Britain itself. The Philistines “possessed an advanced and 
ancient culture.” (Robinson.) “It is,” he adds, “a curious irony of fate that the 
term Philistine should have come to mean barbaric.” This usage of course 
sprang up through the history of their day coming to us through the Israelites, 
who had no brief for their foes. “If the Gentile accounts,” says Dean Stanley, 
“are insensible to the cruel idol-worship of this race” (speaking of “the 
Canaanites”) “the Israelite versions mostly take no heed of the noble aspect 
which this great people presented to the Western world.” 

“The Old Testament is the only document illuminating the life of the’ 
country.” (Belloc.) Or again, in Stanley, “the detested and accursed race of 

Canaanites, as it appears in the Books of Joshua and of Judges, is the same as 
that to which from Greece we look back as to the parent of letters, of 
commerce, of civilization.” 

So much for “historical connection.” To resurrect that which the Jews had in 
order to impose them upon the Arabs of Palestine does not bear consideration. 
That a possession of Palestine so ephemeral and so broken as the Israelite 
should give them a valid right to oust the Arabs in any degree, eighteen 
centuries after the last shadow of the Israelite flicker of power faded, is a thesis 
too fantastic to be taken seriously. If, though, the historic connections of far- 
vanished eras are to be used as a charter to-day, then at least let it be historic 
connection. If extravagant claims drawn upon dim antiquity provide title-deeds 
in Palestine, then it is the Arabs who have the really extravagant and wholly 
ancient claim, and their right to these strange title-deeds is as unquestionable as 
their right to the true deeds, proceeding from their current thirteen centuries of 

Now for the codicil to this. The Jews, in their territorially exiguous stay in a 
corner of Palestine, were, but for the passing few years above mentioned, 
confined to its hill recesses. Josephus himself, the historian of the Jews, who 
described the fall of Jerusalem, underlines this fact: 

As for ourselves, [he declares] we therefore neither inhabit a maritime 
country nor do we delight in merchandise, nor in such a mixture with 
other men as arises from it. But the cities we dwell in are remote from 
the sea, and having a fruitful country for our habitation, we take pains in 
cultivating that only. 

What follows from this? When the “National Home” was established under 
British patronage — we are leaving aside now the question of the “National 
Home’s” legitimacy — the assumption surely was that the new Zionist colonies 
would have been established in the old eyries of the Jewish interior. A certain 
number, it is true, were so founded eventually. But from the start the Zionist 
authorities preferred to seek land in the plains. The acreage they own in the 
plains now far and away surpasses their acreage in the hills. If the figures of the 
Peel Commission be taken the total of Zionist holdings in Palestine is 1,332,000 
dunams, or 333,000 acres. In the hills they hold about 80,000 acres. “It is not 
the hills, but the plains, the Maritime Plain and the Plain of Esdraelon — which 
are the centres of Jewish colonization,” observes Mr. Leonard Stein in the 
course of an argument that the Zionists are not responsible for Arabs being 
crowded into the heights. 

This means that the Zionists have preferred to buy where the land was level, 
or convenient for transport, or suitable for reclaiming, or rich, rather than to buy 
where the land was Zion. 

No pressure was put on them to purchase the particular sites which they 
chose. All their apologists have gone out of their way, indeed, to maintain that 

Palestine: The Reality 


till fairly recently Arabs made no difficulty about selling to Jews anywhere. 
The recent difficulties, they never tire of repeating, are due to the artificial 
antisemitic agitation organized by the politicians in the towns. 

Well and good. This is an argument to be considered and to be met when the 
question of the relations between Arab leaders and the Arab population comes 
under examination. But if in that issue the Zionists can employ it, just as 
decidedly it is an argument against them in this issue and one which they 
themselves must admit, since it was they who produced it. When they were 
free, then, to buy where they liked, which was pretty well all the time, they 
bought (and they have continued to buy) principally in the plains. 

Without any doubt the motives of the Zionist leaders in making these 
Lowland settlements were extremely practical. Here were the accessible sites 
for the industrial transformation of Palestine which they planned. As far as 
agriculture was concerned, they were determined that their colonies should 
possess the finest land obtainable. They fixed their farms and their orchards, 
their experimental stations and dairies where a good return from them seemed 
likely, so that they might be self-dependent. They did not want their colonies 
and their colonists to be maintained by the bounty of Jews in other parts of the 
world, which bounty had been in general the uneconomic mainstay of the pre- 
War Jewish population and the pre-War Jewish colonies. 

They took into consideration the agricultural future of the region and came 
to the conclusion that the finest prospects in the country lay in citrus-planting, a 
generic term for the growing of fruit of the orange family. There was perhaps 
not so much difficulty in arriving at this conclusion, since Arab fruit-growers 
had long established the Jaffa orange on the markets of the world. The Zionists 
decided to follow in their lead and determined to specialize in orange-groves 
and in plantations of like nature. They also engaged, as is known, in forestry 
and in the drainage of marshes, work of primary value in a country neglected by 
the Turks. 

In fine, their agricultural policy was good and sensible, with the sole proviso 
that for trading reasons they might be in danger of over-production of citrus- 
fruit. There would be nothing to say about it but to commend it, were it not for 
one reason. That reason, however, is all-important. 

The Zionists did not come to Palestine to practise colonization. The 
Mandate did not summon them thither because of their historic connection with 
oranges. They are practising Zionism. They have obtained their warranty for 
entry into the land — such as it is from such as gave it to them — and they have 
been set down there in a situation of privilege beyond the dreams of colonists in 
any other part of the world, for what cause? Precisely upon the grounds that 
they are not ordinary colonists seeking for good land or for advantageous 
concessions. Precisely upon the grounds that they are not planting trees or 
draining marshes or sowing vegetables like other pioneers in other lands, but 
are engaged in a spiritual act, in the rebuilding of its vanished sanctuary for the 

errant Jewish soul. Precisely because they are returning like pilgrims, austerely, 
to their ancient home, be it ever so humble — and ever so profitless. 

The extraordinary licence which they have received, to be injected into 
Palestine against the will of its inhabitants, is based purely upon their coming to 
regain the soil which they lost, “to reconstitute their national home,” to 
reconstruct the walls of Zion which have fallen down. I say nothing now of the 
full motives of those who gave them this licence. Whatever these men had in 
their hearts, it was under the terms of “reconstituting their national home in that 
country” that they summoned the Zionists to Palestine. But what regard for that 
did the Zionists show? 

What sort of connection is there between reconstituting this home and the 
planting of 30,000 acres of orange-groves in the maritime plain which even 
David could not make Jewish, in the plains of the Canaanites and the Philistines 
and of their descendants, the Arabs? How does historical connection square 
with the Jewish National Fund’s holdings, three years ago, of some 8,000 acres 
in the fruitful Phoenician plains of Acre and Haifa, confronted with a single 
thousand in stony Galilee? How do the 80,000 acres occupied in the hills, a 
vision of Zionism, blot out from sight the 250,000 substantial acres in the 
plains? What are the 150,000 town-dwellers of Tel-Aviv doing by the 
Mediterranean? Are they reconstructing the tents of Saul, or perhaps the pillars 
of Samson? Of the 400,000 souls who constitute to date the Jewish National 
Home, how many are tilling in the hills? Four thousand one hundred. If ever 
figures spoke, these do. 

It might be objected that the Zionists could not have got in Judaea the extent 
of land they obtained in Phoenicia. It might be objected that they could not 
acquire what was not existent, or not available, and that they only were taking 
what they could get where they could get it. But that was exactly what they 
must never do. It was a question of principle. If Zionist motives were to stand 
examination Zionists must refuse to consider land, however fertile, which had 
no part in the reconstruction of Zion. The situation would have been different if 
they had been entering the country as ordinary colonists under the regulations 
laid down by a native government or by a government in consultation with the 
natives, with no Mandatory clearing a way for them. 

Under such circumstances they could have entered Palestine wherever it was 
convenient and have bought wherever they wished, and have won the usual 
rewards of increased wealth. 

But when they entered as they did, ringed by bayonets, against the will of 
the native population, on the ground that they were to reconstruct something 
out of the past which they alone could reconstruct, and that its transcendent 
character gave them a right to such privilege, then by the Lord Harry they had 
to reconstruct it only, nor ever stir from its site. “For what have you to do with 
me, O Tyre and Sidon and all the coasts of the Philistines’?”, it is written in the 
Book of Joel. 

Palestine: The Reality 


Suppose, however, that amidst their many holdings a few had been scattered 
round the retreating borders of ancient Israel’s ever-shrinking realm. It would 
have been perhaps academic to quibble about the situation of these. But, as 
things were and are to-day, we are not dealing with a few accidental border- 
holdings of this type. We are dealing with a policy which is content, nay, 
anxious, to “re-establish” the Jewish National Home as a State where 
previously it had not been established. Under the guidance of their leaders the 
Zionists return — to whence they have never come forth. British statesmen, or 
men at least occupied in affairs of state, incite them on, authorize their arrival 
because of their “historical connection” with Palestine, and in virtue of that 
encourage them to take over territory with which at no time, since history 
began, have they had any true, durable, historic connection whatsoever. 

Now, as these pages are being revised, the National Home may be 
transmuted (as was intended always) into a Zionist State or “autonomous 
enclave” or “self-governing canton” or whatever other pseudonym is preferred. 
If this be so, it will be established in the plains, by the Mediterranean and amid 
the orchards, a travesty of the Israelite past, a Temple to the design of the 
money-changers, a Zion for Sadducees. 

But the admonitions of that rejected past wait upon the modern Zionists and 
visit their imposture with prophetic rebuke. “Because thou hast forgotten the 
God of thy salvation and hast not been mindful of the God of thy strength, 
therefore shalt thou plant pleasant plants, and shalt set it with strange slips.” “O 
God, the heathens are come into thy inheritance; they have defiled thy holy 
Temple; they have made Jerusalem as a place to keep fruit.” 


The great Arab race — The possession of Palestine necessary for its expansion. 

In the previous chapter it has been shown that Palestine is but a section of 
the larger natural unit of Syria; that Syria itself is an integral portion of the 
great Arab inheritance; that the plea under which the Zionists have been 
introduced into Palestine, their “historical connection” with the land, cannot be 
properly used to override the ownership of the Arab inhabitants who have an 
infinitely more ancient historical connection; and finally, that the Zionists 
themselves have betrayed their inner estimation of this “historical connection” 
by “reconstructing” their National Home where for the most part the Jewish 
race has never had a home. 

I now return to deal with the Arabs, the Arabs strictly so-called, of the last 
thirteen centuries in Palestine. Strange to say, the name they bear is a marked 
disadvantage to them. Relatively few people know anything of the Arabs’ great 
past. We Europeans owe more to them than we credit. For nearly three hundred 
years they led the world in civilization. We drew from them most of our 
mathematical system. The figures or numerals we use are “arabic numerals.” 

Algebra is a corruption of “Al-jebr’ the first words of the title of a ninth-century 
work by an Arab scholar. The Arabs also developed the practice of medicine, 
founded universities, brought fanning and gardening to a high level. 

To-day the extraordinary achievements of the Arabs are forgotten and the 
destruction of their civilization by the Turks passes as a consequence of its own 
decay. No other race has had such a hard lot in history as to be identified with 
its own oppressors and to be found guilty of the crimes by which it was slain. 
But this false and absurd verdict has been accepted in popular belief through 
the centuries. In our time the barrenness of any plot of Arab ground is attributed 
to the shiftlessness of the Arab, who in reality is as good a husbandman as his 
forefathers, and never to the pestilent Ottoman yoke. That yoke forced parts of 
the Arab race out into the desert, and it seems to be these Arabs of the desert 
alone who typify the race to the Western publics. 

The average Briton thinks of the Arab as a bearded man in flowing robes 
who gallops about firing rifles at nothing (except perhaps latterly in Palestine). 
He lives in a tent and is ruled by sheikhs with burning eyes and a tendency to 

This concept is nonsensical. Still, it is widely held. One of the Arab 
delegates who have come so regularly, and so vainly, to England for so many 
years, to plead the cause of their people with successive occupants of 
Whitehall, told me of an incident which shows this well. He and his fellow- 
delegates were paying a visit to the House of Commons. They waited in the 
lobby for a Member to come out and see them. Presently he emerged, cast his 
eyes over them and over others waiting, and then looked round at a loss. He did 
not conceive that the quiet men dressed in clothes like his own could be an 
Arab delegation. His gaze searched the lobbies for banditti in burnouses, girt by 
dangling scimitars, with cords binding their head-dresses. 

The grave disadvantage of this preconception is that it makes those who 
entertain it fall in only too readily with the notion, so valuable to Zionists, that 
the Arabs are a semi -barbaric block of Easterns, who need direction at all points 
from educated Western governors. 

Whereas the Arabs, like the peoples of Europe, are an assemblage of all 
ranges of men. They have of course their great peasantry of shepherds and 
husbandmen wearing the old traditional garments that were worn by the first 
Christians. But they possess an educated, professional, commercial class in as 
large proportion to their numbers as we possess ourselves, possibly in a larger 
proportion. The educated youth of Syria has long frequented schools and 
universities of French and United States’ foundation. A number of them have 
come to England to study law or medicine, or to engage in commerce. In 
Manchester there is a considerable colony of Arab business-men, but as it 
happens there and elsewhere these Arabs escape notice because they are known 
by their truer name of Syrians. 

Palestine: The Reality 


There are Syrian clergy of all the principal confessions. There are numbers 
of Syrian bank-clerks, Syrian chemists, Syrian journalists. 

It may stir some readers to know that there are Syrians who are mi llionaires. 
A good many others, without becoming millionaires, have gained various 
degrees of wealth and of comfort in South America. In a humbler stage of 
activity, droves of them traverse as pedlars the republics of Latin America. In 
the United States they have large colonies. There are plenty of them in Africa. 

Wherever the Syrians live they show themselves exceedingly competent 
business-men. In fact, they are sometimes thought too competent, too versed in 
the hicks of business. Perhaps they are so on occasions, but at least this is a 
proof that they need none of the schooling from the Zionists of which one reads 
so much. 

Altogether they possess a full complement of educated persons, and if 
education goes for anything have as much right to look after themselves and to 
be masters in their own land as we have. 

I might have added to my little catalogue of their capacities that the Arabs 
are good linguists. This is not surprising, because they are a diverse people in 
themselves. The Arabs of Syria have, as we have just seen, a good many strains 
in them. Their country has been held by a series of overlords, and has been at 
different times both a place of battle and a place of refuge. Pursuers and 
pursued alike have left their traces. In the Seven Pillars of Wisdom Lawrence of 
Arabia enumerates at least sixteen sub-divisions of the population between the 
Turkish and the Egyptian borders. But it would take a Lawrence to perceive 
these sub-divisions, just as it takes foreign specialists to distinguish between the 
provinces and counties of the British Isles, and he himself put the general 
position admirably when he said that “the appearances and customs of the 
present Arabic-speaking peoples of Asia, while as varied as a field full of 
poppies, had an equal and essential likeness.” 

To take a different kind of metaphor, it might be said that the Arabs are like 
a great wall in which there are bricks of many shapes and hues, but all mortared 
together. Their junction perhaps, is more elastic, looser, more insecure even, 
than that of bricks laid upon each other, but the resemblance is near enough to 
give a fair idea of their national formation. 

The Arabs’ mortar is largely compounded of religious faith. Whether in Irak 
or in Syria or in Sinai they mostly are Moslem. But in Syria there is a big 
Christian minority, a minority of Christians too who have a lineage of belief 
from the days of Christ in Palestine. (Y et of the “historical connection” of Arab 
Christians with the land of Christ what have we heard from British Government 
or from League of Nations?) And there are small bodies amongst them with 
other beliefs. 

Therefore while religious faith is a powerful bond it is not the supreme 
bond. This bond is the Arabic language. The Arabic language binds all the 
sections of Arabs together. Their common use of it, and the common ways of 

thought which this entails, have made them one of the great national units of 
the world. Indeed they have attained before others that type of national unity to 
which mankind is moving, the unity of those who speak a single tongue. 

They have an evident affinity with the British Commonwealth in the sense 
that (if they get a proper chance) they are likely to form a group of Arab 
countries, each independent of the other, but with some common link, as the 
King is for our various self-ruling states. 

Their nearness to each other ought to prove helpful towards this ideal. They 
are bunched together in the south-eastern corner of Asia. There is however 
another point of view from which their geographical position has to be 
considered, and it is one which has an important bearing upon the particular 
affairs of Palestine. 

If you look off-handedly at a map of Asia, the Arabs, with Syria, Irak and 
the great peninsula of Arabia proper, appear to hold a huge extent of territory. 
The friends of political Zionism are always drawing attention to this. They 
wave their hands in wide circles at the Arab territories and then ask rhetorically 
whether with all this in their possession the Arabs cannot spare them a morsel 
in Palestine. Lord Balfour himself, in an unusual apologetic moment, made this 
plea in a speech once. 

But if you look at the map carefully you see that most of the great Arab 
expanse is uninhabitable. Limitless stretches of naked desert occupy nearly the 
whole surface of it. In Syria there is an inhabited western fringe; in Irak a 
broader eastern fringe watered by the Tigris and the Euphrates. The peninsula 
of Arabia has a mere band of cultivation and of habitation round its extreme 
hilly edges, a few oases inland. Desert, desert and desert; gravel, lava and sand; 
that is the story of the Arabs’ country in the main. 

So for them, their most precious holdings are their rare cultivable tracts, on 
the east in Irak and on the west in Syria. Therefore Palestine is not a superfluity 
of theirs but a necessity. Lord Balfour’s appeal should have run, “Can the 
Arabs not spare for the Jews the small cornfield out of their vast desolation? 
Can the Arabs not spare for the Jews the iron ration out of their famine?” 

There is another consideration, too, and an even greater one. For the Arabs 
Syria represents their outlook upon the Mediterranean Sea, their contact with 
the West. It is their forward gate, and it is in so far as they hold it and keep it 
and make it thoroughly their own that they will mingle their lives and their 
destinies, in their own way, with Europe. It is not by rickety back-doors on the 
Persian Gulf, by the hot oven-lids of Muscat or Koweit, that the Arabs are 
going to find their way into the world’s centre. Now they are cooped up amidst 
the arid lands and the baking seas which lie between Persia and Egypt. But this 
has never been their desire. It is a situation which has been forced upon them. 
Their natural outlook is the European Mediterranean. “The Arabs,” says 
Lawrence, “looked always to the Mediterranean, not to the Indian Ocean, for 
their cultural sympathies, for their enterprises, and particularly for their 

Palestine: The Reality 


expansions, since the migration problem was the greatest and the most complex 
force in Arabia, and was general to it, however it might vary in the different 
Arabic districts.” 

“The new Arabia,” writes Professor W. E. Hocking of Harvard University, 
in his standard work, The Spirit of World Politics, “reached the Mediterranean 
through Palestine. The progress of the Zionist colonization thus becomes for the 
Arab national outlook a culminating stroke in a prolonged series of breaches of 

These breaches of faith will be exposed in the course of this book. What is 
to be noted at the present point is — who speaks at Geneva or in Whitehall of the 
Arab migration problem? There has been infinite, endless talk there about 
Jewish exiles, though indeed not much hint of settling them in our own lands, 
for all our professed sympathy. But about the plight of the Arabs, continually 
driven north by their increasing numbers, or driven into the desert because of 
their inability to reach the more fertile northern or eastern fringes, is there a 
word spoken? 

Lawrence tells of these currents of tribal movement and shows how they 
have not at all been due to hazard — what we might call Bedouin errancy — but 
instead have been the result of economic want. “Nor then,” says he, “did the 
pressure cease: the inexorable trend northward continued. The tribes found 
themselves driven to the very edge of cultivation in Syria or Mesopotamia. 
Opportunity and their bellies persuaded them of the advantage of possessing 
goats, and then of possessing sheep; and lastly they began to sow, if only a little 
barley for their animals. They were now no longer Bedouin, and began to suffer 
like the villagers from the ravages of the nomads behind. Insensibly they made 
common cause with the peasants already on the soil, and found out that they, 
too, were peasantry. So we see clans, bom in the highlands of Yemen, thrust by 
stronger clans into the desert, where, unwillingly, they became nomad to keep 
themselves alive.” 

The race which has this unceasing dilemma of settlement before it is very 
prolific. Its progeny almost springs as we look at it. To where shall it expand? It 
is not oases in the desert which will increase to suit it. Irak can take a moiety, 
no doubt, but no more. It is true that the narrow fertile belts of Palestine and of 
Northern Syria can indeed receive themselves but few newcomers. Yet what is 
to be said of the statesmanship which is determined to go on filling with 
persons from foreign lands the little space that is available therein? What sort of 
statesmanship is it which places across the narrow Arab upward and westward 
path the bar of Jewish occupation? What right and what sense is there in 
denying to the Arabs their natural opening to the Mediterranean, or, to put it 
better, since they already possess it, in taking it from them and in placing 
strangers at their gates? 

On that Mediterranean shore, so near - the highway to India, we especially 
have deep concern. We shall have to seek accommodation for our interests 

there. The more these interests are pondered, the more wildly foolish does our 
present policy appear. Into a plain issue between the Arabs and ourselves, 
which might have been determined by motives of friendship, we insert a 
foreign factor. We banish friendship, we introduce the Zionists and go on 
introducing them, we levy an army and call reservists to the colours and ship 
troops and lose our soldiers’ lives so that Zionists may continue to be 
introduced. We, as it were, plant brambles everywhere, and defend with rifle 
and gun the international tangle which ensues. The problems of the future 
which should have been simple enough become ravelled and complex and even 
perhaps beyond our untwisting. 


Arab renaissance — The Arab preparations to overthrow Turkish rule in Syria 

and to re-establish the old Arab State. 

One of the axioms upon which the Palestine Question too often is based is 
that there has been in that country of late but a single political movement, 
which is Zionism. Zionism, according to this theory, impinged upon a 
population which mentally was motionless, and any vigour, or political activity 
which that population may have showed since has been nothing but a reaction 
to the intense Jewish effort. 

This is a wicked perversion of fact. The Zionist movement, as far as it took 
shape within Palestine in these later years, followed upon an Arab movement, 
so genuine and so strong that in the end men were to lay down their lives for it. 
The Zionist movement sprang, as will be seen, from outside the country: the 
Arab movement was a native one comparable to the irredentist cause in the 
parts of Italy which were under Austrian rule, or in Alsace-Lorraine or in 
Poland. Like these causes, it aimed at the restoration or completion of an old 
sovereignty, and would without doubt have developed as they have done into 
fully restored nationhood if it had not been for the unexpected establishment of 
the Mandatory system. 

Therefore Zionism, which as a political reality was only created by the terms 
of the Mandate, far from being the sole force which has stirred Palestine, was a 
secondary force arbitrarily introduced from outside which did nothing but 
retard the native, previous and primary force of Arabism. 

The great difference between the two movements will become apparent as 1 
detail them. Seniores priores : let me take the Arab action first. 

The Arab empire in Syria, which underwent many vicissitudes, and was 
nearly destroyed by the Crusades, ended in the sixteenth century. The Turks 
then became masters of the country, but the Arab population continued to hold 
the land under their suzerainty. This situation lasted till the Napoleonic wars, 

Palestine: The Reality 


when the French established themselves in the south. But how Sir Sidney Smith 
defended Acre against them is one of the doughty records of our history. 

There followed an interlude of Egyptian overlordship and then, through 
European intervention, the Turks were re-established and ruled over Palestine 
and the other parts of Syria (the Lebanon canton, predominantly Christian, 
having a measure of autonomy) till their power broke for good before the 
armies of Allenby in 1918. 

It may be noted that I have used phrases such as “suzerainty” and 
“overlordship” to describe the Turkish dominion in Syria. This is because the 
Turks conquered lands, but did not colonize them. Once their rule was 
established, thenceforward they confined themselves to milking the territories 
under their control for taxes and, amongst Moslems, for conscripts for their 
army. The Sultans held sway over many non-Turkish peoples, and the Sultan 
himself was little other than a supreme landlord possessing a vast number of 
tenants. Provided they paid exorbitant rents and did not question his ownership, 
the Sultan and his pashas left the tenants, strangers to him, to look after 

This has a notable bearing upon Syria. The people of Palestine in one 
respect remained their own masters under Turkish rule. When the Turkish 
officials were not exerting themselves harshly the Arabs were free and entirely 
amongst each other. In the course of time, too, they came to have compatriots 
set over them, Arabs who acted indeed as Turkish officials and had to identify 
themselves with Turkish rule, but none the less were Arabs. Musa Kazim 
Pasha, who led till his recent death the Arab delegations to London, had been 
governor of the Jaffa district under the Turks. 

Therefore the Arabs are not unaccustomed to governing. The Turkish 
system which they administered was a bad one, and nobody could shine in 
office, but at least they had experience of governmental routine. Dispatches and 
files and so forth are not the mysteries to the Arabs which is suggested by the 
latter’s description in Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations. 
Therein they are catalogued along with other mandated peoples as “not yet 
being able to stand by themselves under the strenuous conditions of the modern 

This phrase of the Covenant, it may be as well to interpolate here, is part of 
the chicanery developed for the benefit of Palestine. In Palestine till 1918 there 
were no strenuous conditions. Existence went along on traditional lines in 
general. Clearly, there would have been some gradual and quiet development 
after 1918, with British help, if the Arabs had been left to themselves. But there 
would have been no sudden appearance of strenuous modern conditions, 
because the Arabs had no desire to install them. 

As soon though as we could, as soon as the then British Government could, 
it imported the Zionists into Palestine and ipso facto created, as it intended to 
create, “strenuous modem conditions” in that unhappy country. The next step, 

of course, was to take charge of the natives to protect them from the 
strenuousness. The situation of Palestine, in fact, became that of a man whom a 
benefactor knocks down with a motor-car, so that he may not be able “to stand 
by himself.” Whereon the benefactor, leaving the car, rushes to uphold the 
victim and to guide his faltering steps with devotion. 

However, the point is that before being thus succoured, the Arabs were not 
thrust out by the Turks of all control in and over Palestine. The educated classes 
had some part in their own government, and the Arab masses even had a say in 
a more extensive field of affairs. “Under the Ottoman regime,” says the official 
report of the 1929 Shaw Commission, “no doubt the more important activities 
of provincial and even perhaps of municipal bodies were controlled either 
directly or indirectly by the central Government. But the fact remains that even 
the peasant, provided that he paid so small a sum as ten shillings per annum in 
direct taxation, could feel that through the exercise of his voting powers he had 
a voice in the control of his village, and indirectly, through the system of 
secondary elections, in the control of the affairs of the larger administrative 
units, up to the Ottoman Empire itself.” 

These are the words of a British Commission, which in its next few 
sentences, after allowance has been made for the material benefits and for the 
better administration of our rule, recognizes that a case exists for those who 
contrast Arab self-government under the Turks with their situation under our 
regime. The Arabs, sums up the Commission, were indeed given opportunities 
of self-government in 1922, but their leaders refused them on the ground that 
they would not amount to as much as they had under Turkey. The Commission 
records this fact without attempting to controvert it. 

Still, that share in local self-government and that small say in the first-class 
affairs of Turkey which the Arabs held, if they do show to advantage compared 
with the Arabs’ present abject political status, were in themselves nothing so 
much. They were only enjoyed at the price of the surrender of national feeling. 
Men who exercised them had to drop Arab nationalism and act as Turkish 

But Arab nationalism, or rather the feeling that Arabs had of individuality 
and of insulation from their rulers, which later was to take the usual guise of 
nationalism, always existed amongst them. It had dormant periods, but like so 
many nationalisms began to emerge vigorously into life in the mid-nineteenth 
century. It was stronger in Syria than in any other part of the Arab lands. Syria 
was in contact with Europe. The Christians of the Lebanon, benefiting by their 
special rights, led the way. 

The Syrians began the national renaissance with what may be called an 
intellectual rising. They made the printing press busy. They published an 
Arabic encyclopaedia. They translated Homer and Virgil and other classics, and 
then the works of more modern poets and essayists out of the various European 
languages. There was more than research in these discoveries of the literature of 

Palestine: The Reality 


the West. Reading great Western books, the youth of the country responded to 
the sentiments of liberty they found in the poets, and to the themes of the 
essayists which were based implicitly on liberty of thought. They made 
parallels between Homer’s heroes and the traditional heroes of their own race. 
Each book, though born long before Turkey was born, deepened their 
discontent with their Turkish environment. 

In what is read lies the germ of what is to be written, and presently Arabic 
newspapers appeared, dealing rather with the news of ideas than the news of 
happenings. In 1860 Boutros al Boustani founded one that had considerable 
influence, the Nafeer Souriyya or Syrian Trumpet, a name sufficiently 
explicative of the paper’s mission. Another journal of the kind was Al Jinan, 
The Garden. Beyrout, where were the foreign schools, became the chief centre 
of nationalist journalism, though the other towns of Palestine and North Syria 
had their share. Women began to take a part in the rising movement: several of 
them helped to edit sheets and pamphlets which became more patriotic and 
more clandestine as Turkish attention by degrees was aroused. 

The movement went underground also. Secret societies were formed. It also 
went abroad, for the Turks began to banish the more prominent nationalists. 
Some of these fled to Egypt and became the leaders of the anti-Turkish 
activities there. Others went to France which provided them not only with a 
refuge but with a natural forcing-ground for the growth of national feeling by 
reason of its own stir and agitation. 

Ideas of freedom filled the air and moved Constantinople itself. The Sultan 
granted a Constitution in 1876, which stayed dormant however till 1896, when 
under renewed pressure from liberal elements a Parliament met. It was short- 
lived, but presently the “Young Turkish” Party arose, and in 1908 the Sultan 
Abdul Hamid opened yet another Parliament. It served the Arab cause, for 
Syria elected representatives along with the other countries of the Turkish 
Empire, and they all were nationalists. 

This Parliament was dissolved in 1912. Most of the Arab members went into 
exile, but they had gained their status and now formed an authoritative Arab 
nucleus abroad, in secret touch with the homeland. The Arabs in France had 
organized themselves. A “National Committee” had been founded in Paris by 
an Arab of Egypt, Mustapha Pasha Kamel. 

In 1895 this Committee issued a document of high importance. It was the 
prospective charter of Arab Independence, which was never to be lost from 
sight and to re-appear, some twenty years later, under the pen of the Shereef 
Hussein, in Mecca itself. The essential parts of its explanatory preamble ran, 
“The Arabs are awakened to their historical, national and ethnographical 
homogeneousness and aim at separating themselves from the Ottoman body 
and forming an independent State. ... Its boundaries will be from the Tigris 
and the Euphrates to the Suez Canal and from the Mediterranean to the Gulf of 

Oman (the continuation of the Persian Gulf). It will be governed by an Arab 
sultan as a liberal constitutional monarchy.” 

Everybody in 1 895 was liberal and constitutional in the Gladstonian fashion, 
and it is a question whether Arabia could produce then, or now, for that matter, 
Gladstones cut to the exact Hawarden pattern or Gladstonian constituents of the 
Midlothian breed. But this does not matter. In the manifesto of the National 
Committee the project for an Arab state was publicly filed, its dimensions and 
boundaries were publicly declared, and the principle of a non-despotic 
government was laid down for it. 

Arab leaders in Syria of course could not openly espouse the Paris 
proposals. They sought for a measure of autonomy under the Turkish rule, and 
formed a “Decentralization Committee,” as it was called. This committee 
published a scheme under which governing officials should only be appointed 
with the consent of local authorities, and also they demanded the creation of 
provincial diets. 

By the beginning of the new century, official Arab claims had grown bolder. 
A still more representative committee numbering eighty-four members, of 
whom half were Christian and half Moslem, was established, of which the 
object was to secure a “General Provincial Council for Syria,” Home Rule for 
Syria in fact. 

The movement abroad and underground, aiming at complete independence, 
gathered impetus meanwhile. The Paris National Committee expanded into the 
“League of the Arab Motherland” and set forth as its aim the return to the Arabs 
of all Arab countries. 

Some hesitations upon policy came when the Young Turk movement gained 
strength. Various personalities amid the Arabs were affiliated to this at first, 
thinking that as it was a general advance towards emancipation, it might be a 
step also towards the Arabs’ goal. An Arab, Shawki Pasha, was prominent in 
the group which dethroned the Sultan, Abdul Hamid. Under his successor, 
Mohammed V, Arabs held Cabinet posts and in general higher positions than 
had been their lot previously. 

But the Young Turk movement soon became more and more a pan-Turk 
movement, introducing the idea of Turkish nationalism at the expense of the 
previous Ottoman dynastic regime. This meant the suppression of all non-Turk 
elements in the life of the country, and the Arabs, seeing they had nothing to 
look forward to but subordination, soon began to break, openly or in secret, 
their connections with Enver and his companions. 

Arab hopes now centred in the secret and semi-secret national societies. The 
most powerful of these perhaps was the “ Hizb al Ahd ,” sometimes called 
“ Ahad ” for short, or “Party of the Oath.” It was the most dangerous to Turkey 
because its members were all officers in the Turkish army, who swore, as 
Lawrence puts it, “to acquire the military knowledge of their masters, and to 

Palestine: The Reality 


turn it against them, in the service of the Arab people, when the moment of 
rebellion came.” 

A larger secret society, in some way the civil counterpart of the Hizb A1 
Ahd, was the so-called “ Fatah .” It was, says Lawrence, the “society of freedom 
in Syria. The land-owners, the writers, the doctors, the great public servants, 
linked themselves in this society with a common oath, passwords, signs, and a 
central treasury, to ruin the Turkish Empire.” The full title of this society was 
“A/ Arcibiyah al Fatah ” which means “Arab Youth.” Its members were the 
Young Arabs, in fact, who thus faced the Young Turks. It was founded in Paris, 
amidst Arab students there and some residents. Three of its founders hailed 
from Palestine and one of them was to become well known later on as Auni 
Bey Abd-el Hadi, signatory of the Versailles Peace Treaty, and years after 
internee of the Sarafend Concentration Camp. 1 

The widest-spread society of all was the Literary Club — “A/ Muntada al 
Adabi ” — which was founded at Constantinople in 1912, but like the other 
societies had its main membership and organization in Syria. Ostensibly the 
Literary Club had no political interests, but was concerned with social and 
literary pursuits. It could enjoy, therefore, a public existence. It produced a 
widely read magazine, the joint editors of which were an Arab man of letters 
from Baghdad and Asem Bey Bseso, who came from Gaza. Its founder, Jameel 
Bey at Elusseini, was from Jerusalem. The Literary Club of course, under cover 
of its innocuous public meetings and conversaziones, was a focus of national 

There were several other smaller societies, but these three were the 
principal. The reader will observe that the Arabs of Palestine, far from being 
inert, uninterested and obscure, were extremely prominent amidst the 
organizers of the movement. 

Lawrence, who did not care for townsmen and, despite his own gifts of 
manipulation, did not care for intrigue on behalf of any cause, speaks 
contemptuously of the Fatah. He would have wished its members to have 
sought freedom “through sacrifice,” that is, by risking a revolt. But he grants 
that it became a formidable organization. It is possible that the Arab societies at 
the time knew best what advanced their cause. 

An Arab National Conference was held in Paris three years later, but the 
Balkan and Tripoli wars gained for the Turks some respite from the Arab strain. 
The more advanced Arab irredentists became nervous of the advance of 
European arms against Turkey. It was not that they cared a whit for the 
preservation of the Turkish Empire, but that State did not present such an 
obstacle to their hopes as did this European advance. The Turkish yoke was 

1 Auni Bey Abd-el Hadi is one of the Arab delegates at the Conference convened by the 
Government at St. James’s Palace, being held in February 1939, as these pages go to 

Palestine: The Reality 

something which sooner or later they felt they could slip, but they were very 
doubtful about their own prospects on soil which in the interval Europe might 
have garnered from the Turks. These apprehensions have not proved so ill- 

However, after the close of the Tripoli and Balkan conflicts, Arab pressure 
on Turkey grew, and the approach of the Great War found Syria close to a 
formal demand for autonomy. But as the events which ushered in the Great 
War, and afterwards followed it, are of more importance than anything else in 
the history of the Palestine Question, it will be better to return to them at full 
length later. Some account must first be given and some comment made upon 
the origins and the rise of the other force mentioned at the beginning of this 
chapter, Zionism. 


The Jews in Palestine — Misuse of the term “exile “ — Did they survive in 

Palestine? — The two Zionisms — Early Zionists — Herzl and political Zionism — 

Refusal to be aware of the Arabs. 

Few causes have owed so much to ignorance as the cause of Zionism. This 
does not mean that Zionists themselves are ignorant. Far from it. 

What is meant by the debt of Zionism to ignorance is that the measure of 
success which Zionism has won in British circles, above all its enrolment 
amidst British political causes, is in great paid due to the ignorance of the 
general public. The cabinet ministers who adopted Zionism during the latter 
years of the war were able to force it upon Palestine largely because no one at 
home knew anything about the more recent past of Palestine. Things were done 
there which would not have been ventured if the electorate of the United 
Kingdom had been informed and alert. 

No doubt some of the British politicians who were responsible may not have 
had so much knowledge themselves of the history of the land they intended to 
govern. In this case, they might have read something of it and like other 
apprentices have taken a course in the subject which they intended to profess. 
But most of them, I fear, had no interest in dissipating public ignorance. One of 
them. Lord Balfour, went further. Lord Balfour kept himself determinedly 
innocent of everything concerning Palestine, and then exploited his own 
innocence. It was a state of mind which appealed to his peculiar cast of 

One piece of general ignorance which helped enormously, and without 
doubt still helps the Zionist cause is the popular notion that all Jews were 
driven into world exile when the Romans took Jerusalem and destroyed the 
Temple in A.D. 70. As a matter of fact the Jews remained still strong enough in 
Palestine after the fail of Jerusalem to launch a final revolt sixty years later. 


But that is a very minor point. The primal point is that most Jews were never 
driven into world-wide exile at all. They left Palestine, long before Roman 
days, because they wanted to go. Under pressure of hard times or in hope of 
bettering themselves they quitted the homeland and settled down all over the 
ancient universe. They were not exiled: they emigrated. They and theirs, when 
they had the means, liked to come back for visits to Palestine, but they had not 
the least intention of returning to live there. 

Their own writers to-day, as in bygone days, quite recognize the situation: 

The children of Israel, [says Mr. Norman Bentwich] were scattered 
far and wide in all the countries of Hellenistic civilization, in Persia and 
Babylon, Egypt and Cyprus, the isles of Greece and the coasts of Asia 
Minor. “Earth and sea are full of them,” said the Sibylline oracle. And at 
Alexandria, the intellectual capital of the world [in the pre-Christian era] 
they were gathered in hundreds of thousands and occupied two of the 
five quarters of the city. By their numbers and their commercial 
prominence they held a position there, at the centre of the Orient, 
analogous to that which the Jews hold in the metropolis of the New 
World to-day. 

At the time of the debacle [(the fall of Jerusalem) writes Mr. Leonard 
Stein] Palestine did not contain more than a fraction of the Jewish race. 
Flourishing Jewish communities had long existed in Egypt and in 
Cyrenaica, in Syria [north Syria, that is] and in Mesopotamia, in Italy 
and Greece. The Jews were dispersed long before the collapse of the 
Jewish State. Indeed at the opening of the Christian era there are said to 
have been only about 700,000 Jews in Palestine out of something like 
4,000,000 in the Roman Empire alone. 

The plain fact is that the vast majority of Jews for more than two thousand 
years has been satisfied to live outside Palestine. They remained attached to 
Palestine, at least those who remained attached to it were very attached. But 
they were not and never have been exiles for an enduring space in any true 
sense of exile, as the comings and goings to Palestine of those who returned to 
visit it showed. 

Unfortunately this fact is not widely known. Our own politicians have been 
the last men to disclose it. They preferred their constituents to think that the 
Jews had been driven en masse from their home and had been impeded en 
masse from returning thither, and that these conditions always prevailed. 

However, let us trace the course of the Jews in Palestine. After the final 
insurrection, the land was laid waste. They were butchered in great numbers 
and were enslaved. Many of the Palestine Jews endured genuine exile for a 
while, such as the Arab leaders have suffered in the Seychelles. Under the 
emperors who followed Hadrian however they were allowed to return, though 
there was little then to induce them to return. Jerusalem had been made into a 

Roman city, entitled Aelia Capitolina, and this particular area, their own 
capital, was forbidden to them. They chose in the main to stay in Alexandria 
and in the other cities in which they had taken refuge. 

A group of their priests and teachers however never were expelled from 
Palestine, though driven from this place to that. Eventually they came to rest, 
chiefly in Galilee, where they established rabbinical schools. They were men of 
strong faith, who when their visible sanctuaries were destroyed, made 
sanctuaries of their minds and kept alight in them the holy lamp of Jehovah. 
They gained reverential repute throughout the Diaspora, the Greek word 
generally used to designate the mass of Jewish settlements scattered about the 

But with the passage of time their schools declined, and Jewish 
representation in Palestine grew more and more tenuous. Whether for a period 
it survived or vanished altogether is a moot point. No one can be quite sure 
about what happened in the middle of the Dark Ages. Laurence Oliphant, the 
traveller, about eighty years ago, paid a special visit to Bukera, or El-Bukhera, a 
village west of Safad in Northern Galilee, situated “in a savage mountain 
wilderness of desolation,” because of a few Jews living there who were reputed 
to be the only Jewish community which had kept on the soil since the time of 
Christ. Such a tradition might well be accepted. 

After the battle of the Yarmook, to which reference has already been made, 
in the first part of the seventh century, the Arab Caliphs who followed certainly 
ruled over a number of Jews, for there is record that they treated them very 
tolerantly. The Jews existed in the chief towns and survived the convulsions of 
the next centuries. But the Crusaders slaughtered a considerable number when 
they captured Jerusalem. 

When Saladin regained the realm he was kindly to the Jews, who by now 
again were very few. A scarcely known and curious episode of history was his 
reception in the year 1211 of three hundred rabbis of England and France, who 
sought to investigate the prospects for Jewish immigration. They deserve surely 
to be called the first Zionists, and they show an example to their successors of 
the twentieth century, who, before entering Palestine, did everything but 
“investigate prospects” amid Arabs. 

Their mission however cannot have had any results, for some fifty years 
later, in 1267, there were only two Jews, brothers, living in Jerusalem. In 1327 
a small community was established there, who were dyers for the most part. At 
the beginning of the fifteenth century there was a synagogue in the Holy City, 
but its congregation was oppressed and a hundred families, which must have 
been about the sum total of believers, emigrated. 

During the fifteenth and sixteenth century the Jews in Jerusalem seem to 
have varied in number from 250 to 1,500 souls. The expulsion of the Jews in 
1492 from the Spanish peninsula accounted for the larger total. Most of the 

Palestine: The Reality 


expelled Jews however who came to the Orient went not to Palestine but to 
Salonica, where they have remained ever since. 

The Moslem population of Jerusalem varied also at that time. It was 10,000 
in 1481, by the account of travellers. But plague reduced it by a half within a 
few years, and the Jewish nucleus with it. 

Mr. Bentwich mentions a curious episode of the sixteenth century. A 
member of a Jewish family exiled from Portugal, Dom Joseph Nasi, “who had 
become the most trusted diplomatist of the Ottoman Empire and had been 
created Duke of Naxos, after entertaining and then abandoning the idea of 
establishing a Jewish colony in an island of the Greek archipelago, obtained 
from the Sultan Selim 11 the grant of a large tract in Galilee, with the 
permission to rebuild the town of Tiberias and to populate it exclusively with 
Jews.” This Selim was the Sultan whose fleets threatened Christendom but 
were destroyed at Lepanto by Don John of Austria. The Tiberias enterprise 
never apparently was put into operation, but Mr. Bentwich, unaware probably 
of the embassy of the three hundred rabbis to Saladin, says of it that it was the 
anticipation of the modern movement for the return of the Jews to their 
ancestral soil, the first vague expression of the reviving national consciousness, 
and that some of the Jewish settlements in villages of Northern Galilee are 
effects of it. 

In the first half of the next century 2000 Jews are reported in Jerusalem. 
Their numbers fell to a thousand in 1730. Outside Jerusalem there were groups 
only, for the most part in Safad and in Tiberias. 

With the arrival of the nineteenth century comes the period of larger 
numbers. A species of census made by Ludwig Franki in 1856 counted nearly 
5,000 in Jerusalem, and there will have been rather more in the other parts of 
the country. There was an estimated population of 20,000 Jews in the whole of 
Palestine in the ’eighties, which increased under modem conditions of 
government and with the first foundation of Jewish colonies to 85,000 or so 
before the war of 1914. 

So much for the numbers of the Jews in Palestine. The figures which I have 
quoted, and other such evidence as there is, go to show that they may have kept 
a minute thread, a mere filament of residence in a nook of Galilee from the time 
of Christ. In the city of Jerusalem there was a break in their residency as the 
Roman era merged into the Dark Ages, and most probably one also after the 
Crusades. Still, Jerusalem has been the real centre when they have lodged in 
Palestine amid the Arabs since Henry 111 ruled in England, six hundred and fifty 
years ago. During these centuries they maintained, though with what continuity 
it is not possible to say, the ceremony of “Wailing at the Wall” in pious 
memory of their destroyed Temple. 

There is nothing in all this to disturb any defender of the Arab cause in 
Palestine to-day. If modern Jewish immigration, in continuance of the old 
connection, had been properly begun and conducted and had been reasonable in 

volume, there would have been (as I have said) probably no Palestine Question 
and no Arab cause to defend. It is only because this old connection is 
interpreted after a fashion which challenges the Arab ownership of the country 
that trouble has arisen and has become endemic. 

That Arab right of ownership should not have had to meet a challenge so 
groundless. It is a right which — it must be repeated again and again — devolves 
upon the Arabs because they are the present representatives of races who 
possessed the land when the Jews were not even yet a people. It devolves also 
upon the Arabs because they have been and are to-day the occupiers of the soil 
for one thousand three hundred years without a break, a period of time 
conveying such evident and absolute ownership that anywhere else in the 
civilized world a kindred title would only be questioned by lunatics and 
disregarded by rogues. However, since this challenge was made, the question 
is, how did it come to be made? How did modern Zionism arise? It is a modern 
movement, whatever some of its protagonists may say about the age-long desire 
of the Jews to repossess Palestine. 

Mr. Leonard Stein, a conscientious writer, has some instructive paragraphs 
on the attitude of Jews throughout the ages. He says that 

Jews might have lived for generations in Poland or Russia, in Italy, 
Spain or the Rhineland: but Palestine was still the Land of Israel. 
Through good and evil days alike, Palestine remained the desire of their 
hearts. In the ease and security of Andalusia, hardly less than in the 
gloomy recesses of the Ghetto, they stretched out their hands to 
Palestine — sang of it, prayed for it, wept for its fallen majesty, and 
patiently awaited the hour of redemption. 

[He goes on:] The Palestine of which they dreamed had for most of 
them long ceased to be the Palestine of concrete reality. Of its 
geographical position or of its physical form they knew little or nothing. 
They were not bound to it by ties of personal affection, nor haunted by 
memories of its sights and sounds. It was not indeed a mere abstraction. 
The return of the exiles [Mr. Stein would call them the “exiles”] 
“assuredly would be a return in the most literal sense. But it would not 
come as the result of human effort. It would come in God’s good time 
with the appearance of the Messiah. 

The whole matter of the thing is in this paragraph. Till recent days, till the 
stai't of the nineteenth century, say, the cry of the Jewish race for Palestine has 
been a religious one. That has made it, to begin with, only nominally the cry of 
the Jewish race, since out of the millions of Jews how many have been bound 
by the horizons of commerce and of humanitarianism, and have seen no 
further? Those of them who did look beyond, dwindling into a smaller and 
smaller minority as the centuries went past, never thought they would occupy 
Palestine till a time had come when Time would be no more. The Messiah 

Palestine: The Reality 


would bring them back to a Palestine transfigured, a stepping-stone to the next 
world. It was not for a territory, not so much for earth that they prayed as for 
Heaven. It has been left to an entirely different set of men, not at all their heirs, 
the Zionists of to-day, to insinuate that they did dream of a delimited country, 
and to produce atlases to measure their ancestors’ transfiguration. 

There were some rather fanciful beginnings to modern Zionism just after the 
French Revolution. An anonymous letter to the Jews of France, published by 
one of them in 1798, suggested the creation by the Jews of the world of a 
Jewish Council, which should treat with the French Government for the 
restoration of Palestine to “its traditional people.” “The country we propose to 
occupy ,” said the characteristic text, “shall include — subject to such 
arrangements as shall be agreeable to France — Lower Egypt, with the addition 
of a district which shall have for its limits a line running from Acre to the Dead 
Sea and from the south point of that lake to the Red Sea.” The writer went on to 
expound the economic advantages to everyone of this calmly proposed 

Some very uncertain evidence makes Napoleon toy with a species of Zionist 
scheme. On the 22nd of May in 1799 a message appeared in the Moniteur, the 
official organ of the then French Government, dated from Constantinople, 
which ran, “ Bonaparte a fait publier line proclamation, dans laquelle il invita 
tous les juifs de l ’Asie et de l ’Afrique a venir se ranger sous ses drapeaux pour 
retablir I’ancienne Jerusalem. II en a dejci arme un grand nombre, et leurs 
batciillons menacent Alep.” That is, “Bonaparte has caused a proclamation to be 
issued, in which he calls upon the Jews of Asia and of Africa to join his colours 
in order to reconstitute ancient Jerusalem. He already has armed a considerable 
number of them, and their battalions are threatening Aleppo.” 

Some weeks later the Moniteur, for reasons which alas! remain unknown, 
proceeded to exculpate itself. “Ce n’est pas settlement,” it explained, “ pour 
rendre aux juifs lew Jerusalem que Bonaparte a conquis la Syrie. II avait de 
plus vastes desseins . . . de marcher sur Constantinople, pour jeter de Id 
I’epouvante dans Vienne et dans Petersbourg.” “It is not merely to restore to 
the Jews their Jerusalem that Bonaparte has conquered Syria,” says the 
Moniteur. “He nourished vaster plans ... of marching from there upon 
Constantinople, to cast terror into Vienna and St. Petersburg.” 

These extracts from the French organ have been studied and have been 
followed up by Mr. Philip Guedalla, whose lively mind plays amid them and 
inquiring sense is unsatisfied altogether about them. He can find no trace of the 
proclamation amidst the archives of the Egyptian expedition, nor any trace of 
other documents confirming or even referring to it. No Jewish battalions ever 
threatened Aleppo. No one threatened Aleppo, not even Napoleon, who never 
came near it. 

Asking himself in consequence whether the restoration of a Jewish State in 
Palestine was any part of Bonaparte’s plan, Mr. Guedalla replies that “The 

answer is not free from doubt.” He adjudges however that there is some bare 
chance of an idea of the kind having floated through that great soldier’s mind, 
and he recognizes as a possibility that “for a few weeks in the spring of 1799 
Napoleon was a momentary Zionist.” The adjective is well chosen: it is about 
the space of time during which Napoleon would have been a Zionist. 

This odd little episode indeed might have been scarcely worth recording 
here, were it not for a singular sequel to it. Mr. Guedalla’ s researches into the 
matter were made public by him in the form of a lecture which he delivered on 
the 25th of May in 1925 to the Jewish Historical Society of University College, 
London. As it happened, Mr. Lloyd George was a guest of the Society on that 
occasion, and after the lecture he proposed the usual vote of thanks to the 
lecturer. In this address he was franker and more expansive upon the 
circumstances under which Zionism was adopted by the War-cabinet, and 
especially by himself, than he has been at any time since. At the proper juncture 
1 shall cite his remarks. It is a strange combination of circumstances indeed: a 
semi -apocryphal declaration of the French Empire: an esoteric lecture upon it a 
hundred and twenty-five years later: Mr. Lloyd George blurting out thereon 
why he adopted a policy which is proving a disaster for the British Empire. 

Returning to the history of Zionism, it was only in the latter part of the last 
century that it either took on any importance or took a political aspect. In 1827, 
the Jewish philanthropist Sir Moses Montefiore, who was the first Jew ever to 
be a Sheriff of London, visited Palestine, and conceived the hope of settling, as 
he said, “thousands of our brethren in the land of Israel.” He intended to form a 
company for the purpose and applied to Mehemet Ali, the Egyptian Pasha who 
then held Syria. But Mehemet Ali was driven back to Egypt and the plan of Sir 
Moses fell through. 

Various writers during the next few decades gave birth to schemes for the 
resettlement of Jews or nurtured the idea that they should be resettled. Some of 
these were Gentiles, Laurence Oliphant being the most conspicuous. His, and 
most of the plans suggested, began to be political in character. There is 
unsuspected humour in the title of the book sent to Queen Victoria in 1846 by a 
Colonel George Gawler, The Tranquillization of Syria and the East by the 
Establishment of Jewish Colonies in Palestine. A Mr. Hollingsworth, a frank 
political ancestor of Mr. Ormsby-Gore, suggested that a Jewish State should be 
set up in Palestine under British suzerainty in order to protect the road to India. 

A few colonies were founded beginning in 1870, by a society called 
“ Choveve Zion” or “Lovers of Zion.” The senior of these, Mikveh Israel, 
founded south of Jaffa, still exists. 

It was persecution, in two very different forms, which really brought modern 
Zionism into being. In the year 1881, in the reaction from the assassination of 
the liberal Tsar Alexander II, a wave of tyranny rose in Russia. One of the too 
frequent pogroms against the Jews followed as a matter of course, and the 
legislation which succeeded this was so despotic and injurious to them that 

Palestine: The Reality 


great numbers fled the country. The majority made for the United States, where 
within thirty-five years the Jewish population increased from 250,000 to 
3,000,000, and made of New York with its million of these the chief Jewish 
residence in the world. 

A certain number however turned to Palestine. “Three thousand Jews,” says 
Mr. Stein, “landed at Jaffa within twelve months of the enactment of the 
Russian ‘May Laws’ of 1881.” He points out that they were a new type of 
colonist, men who by implication preferred Palestine to the United States or to 
any other place of refuge. Previous colonists when they went to Palestine had 
had no choice between going there and going anywhere else. “Nor,” adds Mr. 
Stein, “were they moved by the old-world sentiment which craved for the pious 
consolations of the Holy Cities.” 

The fact is notable, and so is the phraseology used to describe it. In so far as 
there had been a link between Palestine and scattered Jewry, it was this same 
“old-world sentiment,” the strength of which Mr. Stein himself stresses, since 
he asseverates a Jewish continuity based upon it, in the paragraphs of his 
quoted a page or two back. But the new colonists would have nothing to do 
with old-world sentiment. Yet, while they repudiated it, they made use of it, 
acting as though it still were there. This employment of bridges into Palestine 
after blowing them up was indeed to become a commonplace of the singular 
modern Zionist movement. 

The second act of persecution which had so much influence in determining 
the rise of this movement was exerted against a single man, not a multitude. It 
was the condemnation and the transportation to Guiana of Captain Dreyfus. The 
well-known Neue Freie Presse newspaper of Vienna, sent as its correspondent 
to Paris in 1891 a young Jew of Budapest named Theodor Herzl. Three years 
later Herzl had to chronicle the Dreyfus trial and all the attendant antisemitism 
which it aroused. What he saw and heard made such a deep impression upon 
him that he grew conscious of his own people and of their difficult situation in 
the world. Hitherto he had thought of himself as an Austro-Hungarian subject 
and no more. Now he thought of himself as a Jew and nothing else. Where his 
fellow-Jews had emigrated physically from Russia, he emigrated mentally from 

Herzl reviewed the condition of the Jews. In Eastern Europe they were 
oppressed. In Western Europe they were tolerated at the best, as it seemed to 
him, and in some countries toleration was wearing thin. Wherever Jews lived, 
the more their very capacities advanced them and increased their influence in 
that country, the more was its Gentile population irked by them and made 
increasingly hostile to them. 

Herzl brooded on this indeed terrible dilemma, and he came to the 
conclusion that the sole solution for it was for the Jews to have a State of their 
own. He did not intend by this a State to which all Jews should repair, but one 
to which those should go whose position in Russia or elsewhere had grown 

intolerable. His was a stop-gap idea, destined really to deal with the existing 
situation of the depressed Jews, and did not peer much into the future. In 1896 
he published his theories in a book entitled Der Judenstaag, The Jewish State. 
This made a great sensation and was read in translations in all parts of the 

Herzl at very first did not advocate the establishment of the Jewish State in 
Palestine. His cry was for a State, here, there, anywhere, as long as it was a 
Jewish State. He received indeed, some years later, an offer from the British 
Government, through the medium of the by now established “Zionist 
Organization.” This offer was of six thousand square miles of uninhabited land 
in the highlands of British East Africa. Herzl would have closed with this offer 
of 1903, prompted by the interest which Mr. Balfour, the Prime Minister, had 
long taken in Jewish affairs. It was, thought Herzl, a step to the goal. A night- 
refuge, a “nachtasyl,” he called it, for such as then were homeless. But by that 
time there were too many others in the Zionist movement whose thoughts were 
riveted on Palestine, and they brought about a refusal, albeit a grateful and a 
polite one, of the African offer. 

Herzl’s own attitude towards Palestine was that while it was not 
indispensable, it was the location which he would prefer for the Jewish State. 
His writings had awakened and had coalesced a good deal of Jewish feeling, 
and representatives of the race from many lands gathered in 1897 at Basle in 
Switzerland to hold the first Zionist Congress. The Sultan of Turkey had been 
approached in the meantime, and there seemed some chance of his granting a 
charter of occupation in Palestine to the newly formed Zionist Organization. 
The aim was a Chartered Company, with “John Company” 1 privileges and 
headquarters in London. In his presidential address Herzl was guided by this 
and proclaimed that “the aim of Zionism is to create in Palestine for the Jewish 
people a publicly recognized homeland under legal guarantees.” As a matter of 
fact the Chartered project fell through. Abdul Hamid himself had been not so 
disinclined to dispose of Palestine and its people for a return in cash, but the 
sum which he had asked, ten million pounds, was beyond attainment. He 
became aware, too, as negotiation went on and grew known, that there was 
more and much stronger Moslem sentiment against the plan than he had 
expected, and his willingness for the bargain lessened correspondingly. He 
indeed gave a promise, in answer to remonstrations from Palestine, that he 
would impose a check on Jewish immigration, though he did not do much to 
fulfil it. On the fall of his throne, the Zionists placed some hopes in the Young 
Turks, who had a strong Jewish tinge themselves (“the Committee of Union 

1 [The British East India Company. The origin of the expression seems unknown, 
presumably deriving either from John Stuart Mill’s association, or the fact that so many 
other Johns were involved its goings on that it became a popular quip to the newspaper- 
reading public. -Ed.] 

Palestine: The Reality 


and Progress was largely under Donme, crypto-Jew, influence” says Sir Ronald 
Storrs), but the Zionists soon enough were disillusioned. The Young Turks 
were a local cabal, to which Russian-inspired Jewish nationalism made no sort 
of appeal. To have identified themselves with political Zionism would have 
been to disidentify themselves with their doctrine of Turkish nationalism. 

There is no occasion here to go at length into all the ensuing details of the 
rise of pre-War Zionism. The 1897 Congress was the first of a long series held 
in various cities and countries. “Appropriately nomad Parliaments” a French 
writer has called these Congresses. The Eleventh was held in Vienna in the year 
before the War. Herzl himself died prematurely, from overwork, in 1904. The 
Zionist Organization was founded to embody the movement, to arrange the 
Congresses, and generally to form a representative body for puiposes of 
negotiation. Its membership rose at one time to 200,000 but declined to 130,000 
at the outbreak of the War. 

In comparison with the number of Jews in the world then, somewhere about 
thirteen million, 130,000 was not a large proportion, particularly when this 
proportion was obliged by its own tenets to offer itself as representing the 
whole of Jewry. It did not of course do so at all. Some of the impoverished and 
down -trodden Jews and a group of “intellectual” secularized young Jews in 
Russia and in a number of other countries adopted Herzl’s doctrine of the 
Jewish State. The average commercial Jew, the bulk of orthodox rabbis and 
their congregations, the Jew settled in one of his many modern Alexandrias, 
nine-tenths of the race that is to say, fought shy of it. 

As usual however, the small group which wanted to go somewhere and to 
do something had its own way very much. The 130,000 Zionist cavalry charged 
into the Chancelleries of Europe and America and created an excitement and an 
impression of overwhelming unity, unaltered by the pedestrian Jewish millions 
living peaceably at home. The existence of the non-Zionist multitude, though, is 
a point which, to say the least of it, deserves to be remembered, now and at all 
times. Whenever a political Zionist declares that Zionism as begun in Palestine 
was the cause of the Jews, he can always be gently corrected. It was not the 
cause of the Jews, it was a cause of Jews. 

The chief result of the passage of the sixteen years between the First and the 
Eleventh Zionist Congresses was that the doctrine expounded at them changed 
definitely from Herzl’s scheme for housing the depressed Jews in a territory of 
their own. It changed into the modern Zionist doctrine of making Palestine a 
Jewish country, in order to regenerate the status of the Jew outside it, and to 
provide a spiritual sanctuary for his national feelings or national sanctuary for 
his spiritual feelings, whichever he preferred. 

That closes the story of pre-War Zionism so far as it need be told for present 
purposes. There are, though, some matters in connection with it which have a 
marked bearing on the problems of to-day. These particular points have been 
noted little and still less driven home. 

In the first place the quotation from Dr. Herzl’s presidential address to the 
First Zionist Congress, which 1 have already given, is worth studying again. 
“The aim of Zionism,” he said, “is to create in Palestine for the Jewish people a 
publicly recognized homeland under legal guarantee.” Along with this may be 
quoted the words of his precursor, Dr. Pinsker, who in 1881 wrote that the Jews 
“must be amalgamated as a nation among nations , by the acquisition of a home 
of their own.” [The italics are mine.] 

The interest of these assertions is that they demonstrate how the “National 
Home” phrase found in the Balfour Declaration had been devised by Zionist 
leaders decades before it was proclaimed as the watchword of Britain’s own 
policy. Moreover, the word “Home” was to be used by its British borrowers as 
a periphrasis, or more properly as a pseudonym for a Jewish State while in its 
period of incubation, but there never was any concealment about its meaning 
when it was invented by the first Zionist leaders. When Herzl spoke of a 
“homeland” he meant a sovereign State, for it was the only conception which 
he admitted. Pinsker wrote of the “home” as a “nation among nations.” 

This establishes what so many interested parties do not care to have 
established, that Zionism from the start, wherever it was to be installed, stood 
for sovereignty. The pretences of partnership and of blended authority in 
Palestine — themselves indefensible — with which, till in 1937 Partition was 
frankly proposed, it had been thought to delude the Arabs, never were the aim 
of the movement. This always was what Herzl said it was — sovereignty. The 
other formula was only put forward while it was believed that the Arabs might 
be deceived by a system under which they would only lose their natural 
authority by degrees. 

The point of essential sovereignty is not the only one which emerges from 
Dr. Herzl’s declarations. Reading them, the reader may be conscious of a 
remarkable anomaly in them. If Herzl’ s fundamental thesis was that persecuted 
or unenfranchised Jews should get away from their false environment and 
found a State where they would be by themselves and so be the equals of any 
men, if this was what Herzl meant, how then could he come to consider 
Palestine as a spot where such a State could be founded? It was a territory 
where the Jews could not be self-secure, for the Arabs were already living there 
in hundreds of thousands. How could Herzl fix his eyes on Palestine then, 
where the conditions for his Sinn -Fein “ourselves-alone” State were 

The question may well be asked. But it would be difficult for Zionism to 
provide an answer to it. Nothing is more significant of the character of the 
Zionist movement than the fact that in those crucial days of last century it never 
paid the least attention to the Arabs who peopled the country upon which all its 
efforts were directed. Not a lift of a Zionist eyebrow seems to have been wasted 
upon an Arab form. 

Palestine: The Reality 


The sincere Mr. Stein is one of the few Zionist writers who seems conscious 
of this shortcoming. He does what he can to rectify it. “When Herzl,” he 
explains, “had spoken of a Charter” (from the Sultan) “he had not, needless to 
say, contemplated any eviction of the Arabs of Palestine in favour of the Jews. 
He was, to judge from his Congress addresses, hardly aware that Palestine had 
settled inhabitants, and he had, in perfect good faith, omitted the Arabs from his 

Was there ever anything more extraordinary than this? Vast plans are made 
engaging the destinies of a multitude of people, yet the man who engenders 
these plans never takes the essential first step of surveying the land where he 
proposes to carry them out. Nor apparently do any of his associates suggest it to 
him. There might be no Arabs in the world for all the difference it makes to him 
or to his associates. 

Year by year Zionist congresses are summoned, and from their platforms 
and in the corridors of the assembly speakers discourse incessantly about 
themselves, about champions and about opponents of the cause within the ranks 
of Jewry, about the dovetailing of ill-fitting factors in their programme, about 
their hopes and their fears of Gentile help, about their own culture and their 
own need for spiritual expansion. Without doubt these were reasonable and 
respectable topics. When however were they put aside to consider the existence 
of inhabitants in the land which the Congress members proposed to acquire? 
When indeed? Was a single day’s session of a single Congress devoted to the 
discussion of the understanding which must be reached with the people of 
Palestine? Not one. 

Herzl’s own situation is the most extraordinary of all. He justly becomes 
celebrated. He goes about the world spreading his gospel. He interviews 
monarchs and chiefs-of-government. Strange interviews they must have been, 
for he is closeted with the Sultan, the ruler of Palestine, yet comes away 
without news that Palestine has a population. He interviews the Pope and talks 
with him of the custody of the Holy Places, but never learns of the Christian 
inhabitants who frequent them. He even visits Palestine, but seems to find 
nobody there but his fellow-Jews. Arabs apparently vanish before him as in 
their own Arabian Nights. The Arabic tongue at the moment of utterance is 
transmuted magically into Hebrew or Yiddish or German! 

But it is when we turn from Herzl to his associate leaders, and still more 
when we consider the action of the chiefs of Zionism who immediately 
succeeded him, that this plea of not having perceived the Arabs cannot be 
entertained. We are given to understand that this blankness of view persisted 
for some six or seven years. Mr. Stein, writing of the period round 1905, says 
that “it was now coming to be realized that Palestine was not empty.” Herzl had 
died after the Sixth Congress, in 1904, and his death makes a point of 

I cannot see how it can be held that for six years a great number of 
admittedly intelligent educated men remained ignorant of the presence of the 
Arabs. If they did remain so ignorant, theirs was as bad a case of culpable 
ignorance as can be imagined, and they cannot be allowed to profit by it. But I 
do not believe in this ignorance, and I maintain that the half-and-half 
prolongation of it which was kept up till the War, and to all intents was 
resumed afterwards (as will be seen when the Balfour Declaration is analysed) 
altogether discredits the leaders of the Zionist cause as well as their friends in 
our own Cabinet. 

There were nineteen Jewish colonies established in Palestine before the year 
1900. The colonies of Rishon-le-Zion, Zichron Jacob and Rosh Pinah had been 
founded in the early ’eighties, and housed thousands of Jews who had fled from 
Russia. The international Jewish Colonization Association, founded by Baron 
Hirsch in 1891, was busy in 1900 reorganizing these colonies, which had been 
over-subsidized by Baron Edmond de Rothschild. The “ Choveve Zion ” or 
“Lovers of Zion” organization, established in Russia, but with committees in 
Vienna, Berlin, New York, Paris and London, had been engaged in Jewish 
settlement for six years. The “Jewish Colonial Trust” had been founded and 
registered in England to collect funds for use in Palestine and had received a 
quarter of a million pounds in its first year. The Jewish “National Fund,” 
created to acquire land in Palestine, was founded in 1901. In Jerusalem there 
were many thousands of Jews, and also in Jaffa. 

All these trusts and colonies and the people who inhabited them were in 
regular continuous communication with Jewish bodies and persons throughout 
Europe and America. Many of the Jews of Jerusalem were subsidized by pious 
co-religionists, so that they alone were responsible for a network of 
correspondence between Palestine and innumerable synagogues and 
congregations everywhere. The “ Choveve Zion ” and the secular associations 
necessarily were drawn into association with the Zionist Organization and with 
the Zionist Congresses. At Basle and at the succeeding Congresses there was 
infinite discussion about the colonies. 

In a hundred ways the conditions prevailing in Palestine and the existence of 
the Arabs and the varying ways in which the Arabs reacted to existing colonies 
and to the promise of more colonies must have been known to all active 

The only conclusion then, and it is a conclusion forced upon the observer, is 
that if Zionism was unaware of the Arabs it was because most Zionists 
perceived an obstacle in the Arabs and did not want to be aware of them. The 
Zionist leaders, and the more prominent of their followers, obsessed with the 
absurd notion that Palestine had always been the patrimony of the Jews, did not 
intend to be aware of anything which conflicted with this. To have made 
approaches to the Arab population, and to have discussed at any length the bar 
which that population presented or might present to the accomplishment of 

Palestine: The Reality 


their plans, would have [been] to disconfess the plea upon which those plans 
were based. It would have disclosed to most of the non-Jewish world, and 
indeed to a good part of the Jewish world, that there was a factor in existence 
which upset the whole formula of Jewish ownership. 

1 do not say that all of the leading Zionists viewed the matter quite in this 
fashion. Some of them will have thought about the Arabs in a careless, 
indifferent way. They will have considered them as nobodies who would 
disappear presently, decamping from the soil after a little money had been spent 
or by some other almost natural sequence. They would vanish like the mist 
before the sun of Zion. 

Those who thought like this wasted no time in discussing persons of such 
little import as the Arabs. As far as they themselves were concerned the Sultan 
of Turkey was the temporary population of Palestine. Of him they did talk, and 
with him they dealt, if unsuccessfully. 

But most of the principal figures of Zionism must lie under the imputation 
of not having desired to perceive the Arabs. Their attention had been called to 
them by one man at least who belonged to their own number, Achad Ha’am. 1 
Achad Ha’am was the pen-name of Asher Ginsberg, whose essays and treatises 
became the literary focus of all Jews who opposed the establishment of a 
Jewish State. His patent disinterestedness and his altruism marked him out 
amidst his contemporaries. He declared that the political Zionists, that is to say 
those who worked for a Jewish State, were ruining the cause. “Judaism,” wrote 
he in 1897, “needs at present but little. It needs, not an independent State, but 
only the creation in its native land of conditions favourable to its development; 
a good-sized settlement of Jews working without hindrance in every branch of 
culture, from agriculture and handicrafts to science and literature.” 

Achad Ha’am protested even some years before the Basle Conference 
against the Zionist wilful or casual exclusion of the Arabs. It was folly, he said, 
to treat them as wild men of the desert who could not see what was going on 
around them. At the Basle Conference he sat “solitary amid his friends, like a 
mourner at a wedding-feast,” and wrote afterwards of “the complete absurdity 
of Herzl’s statesmanship, aimed inexorably at a Jewish State in Palestine.” 

Twenty-three years later, in 1920, he wrote, “From the very beginning we 
have always ignored the Arab people.” 

That is the truth. The Zionist movement, as it took shape, aimed at 
superseding, or expected to supersede, the Arabs on their own soil. It is vain for 
the defenders of the system which has developed in Palestine from these 
beginnings to try and deny their real character now. If, as they assert, the 
Zionist goal was always friendship with the Arabs, then not alone would such 
warnings as Achad Ha’am’s have been heeded. There would have been no 
necessity for their utterance. From the first moment the Arabs would have been 

1 http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Ahad_Ha'am. 
Palestine: The Reality 

sought out quite automatically, and would have been canvassed by those who 
proposed to suggest themselves as their partners. 

This never was done. No contacts were made either with the mass of 
peasants in the countryside or with the professional men and the other dwellers 
in the towns. No public meetings were arranged to enlist the sympathies of the 
rising generation of nationalist Arab youth. No speeches were heard then, and 
no letters were written then to The Times, about Jews and Arabs hand in hand 
working out the future of Palestine. 

With these points in mind, the reader will understand better now why the 
Arabs make no response to the protestations of friendliness with which they are 
assailed at intervals. 


The Powers and the Arab National Movement — The Headship of the Movement 
shifts to Mecca — the Shereef Hussein — The Emir Abdullah’s visit to 
Kitchener — War between Britain and Turkey — British negotiations for Arab 
support begin. 

In the third chapter the progress of the Arabs towards emancipation from 
their Turkish rulers was traced to a period within sight of the Great War. The 
secret or semi -secret societies which worked for Arab independence, or, as a 
first step, for Arab autonomy, had grown very powerful. The names of several 
have been given. The more notable by now, each working to the common end 
in its own way, were “A/ Fatah “A/ Aha-ul-Arabi ,” the “Arab Brothers”; “A/ 
Muntada-Adibi ,” the “Literary Club” ; the “ Khatanyeh ” Club; the “ Hisb al 
Ahd,” the “Society of the Oath”; “A/ Thevriyet-ul-Arabieh” the “Arab Revolt”; 
“ Nahdat-ul-Lubanyeh ,” the “Awakening of the Lebanese”; the “ Islahyeh ” or 
“Reformist” group; and “ Al-Lamarkazieh ,” the (to give its full title) “Ottoman 
Decentralization League.” Of these the Lebanese group was entirely Christian. 
The “Decentralization League” somewhat sardonically revised an old title, as it 
aimed at complete independence from Turkey, possibly though through local 

The “ Hisb al Ahd,” composed of officers in the Turkish Army, was of its 
very nature more secret and did not entertain the half-way goal of home rule. It 
looked forward to mutiny on a great scale and secretly prepared it. Its members 
were men with the temperament of their calling, without much contact with the 
West, and they were suspicious of any prospective Western aid. It was strongest 
amidst Mesopotamians, born remote from the sea, and its adherents were 
scattered amidst many Turkish garrisons. 

On the other hand the civil societies were inspired by Western examples, 
were full of men who had had Western educations, and some of these societies 
had begun upon foreign soil. They were strongest in Syria which was in 


perpetual contact with the West through its Mediterranean seaboard. It was 
inevitable that they should look for some sort of help from the West, and they 
did their best to establish contacts with the Powers chiefly concerned, Great 
Britain, France, and in a lesser degree, Russia. Nor did the Powers concerned, 
however circumspectly they behaved, evade these contacts. The break-up of 
Turkey had long been in prospect and it was but rational to keep in touch with 
those who at any time might succeed her. 

Britain and France at least displayed a watchful interest in the progress of 
the Syrian or Arab national movement. In fact they showed something more 
than interest. They extended, not perhaps both in the same degree and in the 
same manner, for each had its own fashions, an attitude towards the Syrians 
which is difficult to define but is a recognized diplomatic attitude. In its then 
stage, it might be called encouragement without encouragement. Those to 
whom it was extended felt themselves to be encouraged, while those who 
extended it felt that they had not encouraged them. 

The recipe for this attitude, as may be imagined, is a delicate one. Its very 
ingredients can hardly be listed. It goes without saying that they do not include 
official negotiations, for no respectable Power’s ambassadors or ministers will 
engage in negotiations with conspirators plotting to overturn the rule of the 
government to which they themselves are accredited. But unofficial persons 
who have unofficial relations with official persons can always form a link. 
Consuls have to make reports about more than surface conditions in their 
districts, and they must gain knowledge in some discreet way. 

Unofficial persons, it is true, will negotiate perhaps with prospective rebels 
no more openly than do consuls and diplomatists. Their business is to gather 
information concerning conditions where they are stationed or sent. But 
information can only be gained by conversation and the closer this is with the 
persons about whose activities inquiry is being made the more reliable and the 
more worth sending it is. Such conversation means an understanding of the 
interlocutor’s point of view, and understanding of this easily shades into 
sympathetic consideration, and sympathetic consideration into amicable 
relations. Between friends there is no limit to the theoretic horizons which may 
be discussed and to the prospects which may be envisaged. 

They were being envisaged, with a gradually broadening outlook upon 
“Arab autonomy,” in 1913, in Syria and even more out of Syria. The hazards of 
the war, which were to include unexpected fates for various documents, 
fortunately allow some of their general trend to be followed now. In the January 
of 1913 the French Ambassador in Constantinople, M. Bompard, sent an 
account to M. Poincare, then Minister of Foreign Affairs, of a talk which he had 
had with Shefik Bey el Mouayid, an Arab notable and deputy. The latter with 
what must have been disconcerting openness asked the Ambassador, in the 
course of conversation, whether France, if Turkish forces were sent to Syria to 
keep it under Turkish rule, would send an army-corps to Aleppo to intervene. 

There had been a precedent for French military intervention in 1861, when 
French troops had been dispatched to Syria after a massacre of Christian 
Syrians. This intervention might have become French occupation, if the great 
Lord Dufferin, sent out from England, had not skilfully settled the matter with 
the Turks before the French forces arrived, so that there was no excuse for them 
to stay and they made a rather lame return to France. 

M. Bompard in 1913 could not listen of course to such proposals. He told 
his visitor that the best thing the Arabs could do was to be faithful to the Sultan, 
and by evident fidelity to win from Turkey the right to have their own Syrian 
officials in charge of the Syrian administration. Thus, he said, “ ils auraient 
realise toutes les reformes realisables aujourd’hui et desquelles pourraient par 
la suite sortir toutes les autres.” 

The Ambassador, who had the experience of his rank, added for M. 
Poincare’s information that the Bey was leaving for Cairo, “where doubtless he 
will make the same appeal to the British, and will compare their answers with 
mine.” “Je souhaite added M. Bompard, “ qu ’elles sole aussi correctes .” The 
Ambassador does not seem to have been quite so sure of British correctness as 
he might have been, for he used the word “souhcuter” which, in the special 
notation of diplomatists, is always employed to express a hope rather than to 

It is extremely unlikely that Mouayid Bey got any change out of Cairo, our 
own people always being twenty times more correct and careful than their 
colleagues of any other country, though remaining obstinately well informed. 
Meanwhile however there had been an abortive rising in the Yemen, and the 
news of this, in which Syrians had had a hand, had been much exaggerated in 
Syria. The French Consul-General in Damascus, M. Ottavi, sent, in February, a 
minute to M. Bompard, telling him that the rumour was that a former deputy of 
Basra, Seyyid Taleb, had raised the standard of revolt and had declared that 
Mesopotamia and the Koweit district were henceforth an Arab State under 
British protection. M. Ottavi said he did not believe all this; there had been a lot 
of smoke but little fire. “In my opinion,” he wrote, “we are merely confronted 
by an Anglo-Egyptian manoeuvre designed to evoke before the Arabs the 
glittering mirage of the reconstitution of the Empire of Haroun al Rashid under 
the aegis of Great Britain.” In his original draft the good Consul-General had 
written first “ nous nous trouvons simplement en face d’une manoeuvre des 
agents de Lord Kitchener but on second thought had crossed out the phrase 
referring to Lord Kitchener’s agents and had substituted cautiously “line 
manoeuvre anglo-egyptienne .” The shadow of Fashoda still hung over Egypt 

A month before M. Ottavi’s note was dispatched there had been an 
important move in the Arab campaign for autonomy. A public meeting had 
been held in Beyrout with the agreement of the liberal Vali, or Governor, under 
the auspices of a newly formed Syrian “Committee to Examine Administrative 

Palestine: The Reality 


Reform.” This was composed of twelve Moslems, twelve Christians and, it is 
interesting to observe, one Jew. But the friendly Kiamil Pasha fell from power 
in Turkey, and the “Union and Progress” Government at once dissolved the 
Beyrout Committee and warned the people of the town that a court-martial 
would deal with any more such illegal manifestations. 

This forced the administrative section of the Arab movement abroad once 
more. The Decentralization League held a meeting in Cairo in March, at which 
a Syrian, M. Tueni, “auxiliary dragoman of the French Consulate-General in 
Beyrout”, was present “in his private capacity as a member of the Syrian 
Committee of the League.” The reader will perceive in M. Tueni a precious 
item in the construction of the diplomatic attitude just now described. The 
meeting passed a resolution, as M. Tueni informed his superiors, in favour of 
Syria being created an autonomous principality under the rule of a Moslem 
prince and the protection of France. M. Tueni was instructed to inform the 
French Minister in Cairo, M. Defrance, of this, for which the French Minister 
thanked him, and agreed “at M. Tueni’s request” to inform the Quai d’Orsay of 
what had occurred, “ mais a simple titre d ’indication et en lui conseillant de 
maintenir V action du comite dans la vole de la prudence et de la legalite.” The 
rules of the game were being scrupulously observed. The message was thought 
important enough for M. Paleologue, then at the head of the Quai d’Orsay, to 
send it to the Consuls-General in Damascus and in Beyrout, though it cannot 
have conveyed much news to the latter. 

But about a week later M. Defrance was writing a disatch to M. Pichon, now 
Minister of Foreign Affairs, which ran, “Judging by supplementary information 
which I have been able to gather since the event, it appears that the resolutions 
of the (Decentralization) Committee were neither as decisive nor as unanimous 
as they seemed to M. Tueni, who, only acting besides as a private individual, in 
his quality as a Syrian notable, and in nowise because of the official situation 
which he occupies at Beyrout, gives evidence of a certain excess of zeal on 
behalf of an immediate and radical solution of the Syrian question.” The fact 
was, as M. Defrance communicated to M. Pichon, that M. Tueni had been too 
“optimistic about the Moslems,” who wished for protection not by France but 
by England. 

A stiff if covert struggle for the contingent patronage of the movement 
undoubtedly set in then. The two Powers stood at proper diplomatic distance 
but knew that their respective adherents were battling for them. The Congress 
which should have been held in Beyrout was transferred to Paris, where it took 
on the likeness of a Syrian Parliament and drew the remonstrances of the 
Turkish Ambassador. Beside the delegates already mentioned some two 
hundred Syrians were present, from all parts of the globe. Resolutions were 
passed demanding autonomy and drawing up plans for it, with a central 
government at Damascus or Beyrout, but there was a good deal of dissension in 
the Congress. Many of those present wanted resolutions of entire independence 

to be passed. The autonomists aimed at independence but thought it wiser to put 
up with autonomy for the present. 

But the cleavage on the question of the Power to which the national 
movement should turn for help was perhaps a more evident cause of 
disagreement. The Moslem elements lobbied very successfully for Great 
Britain, so much so that M. Pichon sent a circular letter to the French consuls in 
Syria in which, without naming names, he said that the Reformist movement, 
which had been so favourable to France, now was veering away. The Consuls 
were recommended to be helpful to the Reformists, that is, the members of the 
various national societies, and to stem the Arab current straying from 

A more definite move was made on behalf of the Foreign Minister by M. de 
Margerie, who sent from the Quai d’Orsay to M. Ottavi a singular note which 
had been received from the Resident-General in Tunis. 

There has been communicated [it ran] to the Tunisian Government a 
certain quantity of correspondence sent by Tunisians living in 
Constantinople, Beyrout and Medina, according to which representatives 
of the British Government have got into touch with certain personages 
and religious leaders of the Moslems (avec certains personnages et chefs 
religieux musulmans) both in Mecca and in Medina with the aim of 
forming bonds of sympathy and of common interests between the 
religious capitals of Islam and the British Government. 

According to some of this correspondence, addressed from Beyrout, 
British agents in Syria are vying with each other in the endeavour to 
bring about the triumph of British influence at Beyrout, Smyrna and 
Damascus. It would seem that certain members of Parliament have 
decided to visit Asia Minor during the coming summer and to study the 
country and its inhabitants at first hand. It is upon the advice of these 
politicians that the Moslem-Christian Association has apparently been 
established in Paris, the object of this body supposedly being to restore 
the Arab Caliphate instead of the Sultan’s in Constantinople.” 

The note went on to say that “British diplomacy and the British Press” had 
decided to summon an Arab Congress to this end. The note had been written in 
Tunis on the 28th of May, before the Congress did come to being in Paris in 
June. The odd collaboration of British diplomacy and British Press 
“summoning” the Congress, though, was a characteristic piece of hyperbole by 
the French intelligence-agent who drafted the note — for it was not the work of 
the Resident himself. It was the Syrians who had determined on the Congress, 
Paris was the consecrated place for it, and one of the most active conveners was 
M. Chukri Ganem, a Syrian who had spent most of his life in France, was far 
more French than Arab, and had the definite task of keeping the national 

Palestine: The Reality 


movement infeodated 1 to France. That is not to say that there were no 
supporters of British influence facing him. But in our way, they had been given 
no definite task of opposition. The thing was implicit. They were Anglophile 
for this reason or the other and could be trusted to manifest their sentiments. 

The information from Constantinople, Beyrout and Medina came from 
native agents of the French Intelligence-Service. 

They exaggerated in describing the unnamed visitors to the three cities as 
“representatives of the British Government,” but there was a basis of fact in 
their news. If Great Britain had stood entirely aloof from the rising Arab 
movement it would have been stupid. It was perfectly reasonable and proper 
that she should maintain sympathies, as a great Moslem Power, in all centres of 
Moslem influence. The course of events in Turkey pointed to the rapid 
downfall of the Sultan, whose religious influence as Caliph was a barrier to 
complete domination of Turkey by the modernist “Union and Progress” coterie. 
It would have been madness for Great Britain not to have prepared for such an 
eventuality. The Caliphate originally had been Arab and had been centred in the 
Red Sea. If it were to perish in Turkey, Mecca would be the natural place in 
which to restore it. For Great Britain to lend her help or her patronage to this, 
should the need for it arise, was but one of those exhibitions of divine common 
sense which had inspired her policies so often, though her rivals, as in the 
actual case, presented her action as artificially composed and labyrinthine. This 
policy of favouring Arab development, a development which was now 
inevitable, was one which had always particularly appealed to Lord Kitchener, 
then in full power at the Residency in Cairo. His own early days as a soldier 
had been passed a good deal in Syria, which he had helped to map, and there 
have always been two meanings to surveying the ground when it has been 
carried out by European officers in the Near East. 

It is likely enough that the “representatives of the British Government” 
whose acts disturbed the dreams of the Intelligence-bureau in Tunis were really 
some members of the “Decentralization League,” who did go down into Arabia, 
particularly to reach some kind of understanding with “Moslem leaders.” 
Sheikh Reshid Riza, who had a largish acquaintance in Cairo, visited the Emirs 
of Muscat and Mohammerah. Other delegates visited the Imam Yehia, and 
Seyyid Taleb the Emirs Ibn Saud and Idris. Sheikh Reshid Riza went on then to 
India, to perform the important work of canvassing Moslem opinion there upon 
the Caliphate question, and no doubt to inform Indian Moslems of the character 
and progress of the Arab National cause. 

Exactly what were the relations between Cairo and the delegates of the 
Decentralization League would not be easy to say. Most likely they were very 
far from being as defined as the French imagined, but none the less they served 

1 [An alternate British spelling of “infeudated,” infeudation. —] 

Palestine: The Reality 

their purpose, and were a preliminary stage in the prospective development of 
Anglo-Arab relations should Turkey dissolve or be helped to dissolve by her 
Arab subjects. 

There was then a good deal of difference between British attitude and 
French attitude towards Syria. France had long taken the closest interest in 
Syria, since the days of her kings, and had traditionally acted in Syria as the 
protector of the Latin Christians under the Turkish regime. This was not a legal 
situation: it was a custom which had grown up which conferred a special 
standing on French consuls rather than a status. No doubt the French would 
have liked to transfer this situation into something closer to a protectorate, but 
this was not possible of course while Turkey was there, though in 1861 the 
French, as we have seen, missed an opportunity of installing troops and 
building up a protectorate in the best nineteenth-century manner. 

France, however, maintained her hankerings for the country, and had much 
closer connections with it in general than Britain had. French missionaries and 
schools, as we have seen, were very important there. It was for this reason that 
the French followed the National movement in Syria so closely. 

British interest in Syria itself was less. While it remained in Turkish hands 
there was no particular problem concerning the approaches of the Suez Canal to 
consider. In 1912 the British Government had assured the French that in Syria 
“it had no action in view, no aims, no political designs of any sort,” and had by 
the mouth of Sir Edward Grey accepted that France had “special interests in 

In 1913 the situation began to change with the manifest dissolving of the 
Ottoman regime and the manifest rise of the Syrian national system. The new 
factor was that the Syrian movement did not now appear as a Syrian movement 
alone, but as part of the national renaissance of all the Arabs, and in a general 
Arab movement, involving too the Caliphate question, Britain was vitally 
concerned as a Moslem-ruling Power and because of the strategic importance of 
the Arab territories on the road to India and at the gate of Egypt. 

So that Britain no longer could disinterest herself as much as she had done 
in Syrian affairs. They touched her vitally as Arab affairs, and she had now to 
consider the advantages of friendliness towards the Syrians as Arabs. The 
natural pendant to this was that a large section of the Syrians began to consider 
the greater advantage to their cause of closer friendship with Britain as a more 
powerful and probably less acquisitive Power, on this occasion, than France. 
They were headed by the capable Syrian colony in Cairo, always closely allied 
with British interests in Egypt, and very prominent in the National movement. 
Cairo too became more and more the centre of Syrian political activity in the 
whole Levant because of its geographical and social advantages, and this 
naturally increased the volume of Syro-British conversations of one kind or 


As the summer of 1913 passed into autumn, the situation grew more tense in 
Syria and, because of their nervousness at the growth of the pro-British strain in 
the National movement, the French grew less diplomatic in their own relations 
with it, and passed to pure support of the Arab societies. In October the 
Ambassador in Constantinople had asked whether a newspaper in French 
interests could be produced in Damascus, and the answer he received from M. 
Ottavi makes the development of relations very plain. M. Ottavi wrote: 

The Arabic newspaper mentioned in your Excellency’s telegram of 
the 21st. which 1 hope soon to be able to answer, can only exert a 
cautious influence — which is more desirable in itself — or else it will be 
at once suppressed. In my opinion, therefore, recourse will have to be 
had to pamphlets, secretly printed and distributed. This would mean an 
outlay of 150 to 200 francs a month, and I should be obliged if your 
Excellency would telegraph this sum to me, if your Excellency approves 
of my opinion. 

(Le journal arabe dont il est question dans le telegramme de Votre 
Excellence du 21 de ce mois, auquel j ’espere etre en mesure de repondre 
incessamment, ne pourra exercer qu ’une action discrete — et cela est 
preferable — pour ne pas etre aussitdt supprime. Aussi faudrait-il, a mon 
avis, recourir aux pamphlets imprimis et distribuees secretement, ce qui 
exigerait des frais s ’elevant a une somme de 150 a 200 francs par mois, 
que je serais reconnaissant a Votre Excellence de m ’accorder par le 
telegraphe, si Votre Excellence approuve ma maniere de voir.) 

It is clear that towards the end of 1913 the French were thoroughly involved 
with the Arabs in Syria. With the approach of the fateful year 1914 we may 
shift the scene to Mecca, the sacred city and heart of the Islamic world. It was 
there that British interests were more closely focused. Mecca was conspicuous 
not alone because of its character as a sanctuary and because of the purity of the 
Arab stock in the Hedjaz, as the district surrounding Mecca was called. It was 
the part of the Arab world where the Arabs had more power, and much more 
appearance of it. 

Since the days of Mohammed, Mecca had remained in some degree under 
the sway of his descendants. This sway extended, less definitely perhaps, to the 
other holy city of Medina, to the port of Jeddah, and to the rest of the Hedjaz, a 
coastal section of territory, some 500 miles long by 150 in breadth. 

The Arab ruler of this nucleus in 1914 was not so much an official ruler as 
the Controller of the Holy Places, and he held his position because he was or 
was assumed to be the senior of the Prophet’s descendants. The Hedjaz was not 
a State. In theory it was a province of the Turkish Empire and Turkey exercised 
suzerainty over it and its semi-ruler, who was termed the Shereef of Mecca. 
Shereef is a title given to descendants of the Prophet: the Shereef of Mecca was 
the Shereef of Shereefs, and sometimes was called the Grand Shereef. 

Lawrence records the situation of the Shereefs as Turkish power increased 
over the Hedjaz in the nineteenth century. “As the Sultan grew stronger there he 
ventured to assert himself more and more alongside the Shereef, even in Mecca 
itself, and upon occasion ventured to depose a Shereef too magnificent for his 
views, and to appoint a successor from a rival family of the clan [of the 
Prophet’s descendants] in hopes of winning the usual advantages from 

However, under one Shereef or another, the Hedjaz had kept a greater 
measure of independence than any Arab district of any size and importance, 
while the Shereef, as the custodian of the Holy Places, enjoyed the highest 
prestige amongst the Arabs. He became more and more the chief dignitary of 
their race, and when modem times set in the eyes of the leaders of the Arab 
movement turned to him. 

At that date the Shereef of Mecca was Hussein ibn Ali. He had always been 
impatient of Turkish suzerainty and, as a younger man but already important in 
Mecca by reason of his birth, he had been deported by order of the Sultan to 
Constantinople, where he was kept for sixteen years under polite supervision. 
The Turks always injured their own cause by exiling Arabs. Just as the Arabs 
driven to Egypt and to France sowed the seeds of the secret societies, so did the 
Arab Hussein profit by his exile. His sons received a modern education in semi- 
European Constantinople. There were four of them, Ali, Zeid, Abdullah and 

On the fall of Abdul Hamid, the Young Turks made the grave mistake of 
sending Hussein back to Mecca as Shereef. This was during their Panislamic 
period, before they turned to the policy of “Turks only for Turkey,” and 
probably they believed they had won the sympathies of the Hussein family 
during his long residence in the capital. His son Feisal was deputy for Jeddah in 
the last transient Turk Parliament and Feisal’s elder brother, Abdullah, even 
held a post equivalent to Deputy-Speaker of that assembly. 

Hussein, outwardly complaisant, from the day of his return began to restore 
and to extend his power as Shereef. And as it grew quietly, the connection 
between Mecca and the secret societies in Syria grew closer and closer. The 
project of a principality under a Francophile Egyptian prince hung fire. Those 
who were working for Arab independence began to look to the Arab Shereef, 
who had semi-independence already and the headship of the Holy Cities, as a 
prospective titular leader and mouthpiece of something wider than a local 
principality. In the spread of this idea British attitude certainly played a part. 

The Turkish authorities, as their interior policy began to change and, without 
doubt, as they got some inkling of what was going on. became more repressive. 
In Syria they closed some of the smaller “social clubs,” but the larger ones 
eluded them, and underground action went on unabated. Down in the Hedjaz, 
they appointed a new Vali of the province, who was known for his anti-Arab 
feeling. His first act was to order the surrender of a hundred rifles belonging to 

Palestine: The Reality 


the Shereef s bodyguard. This was a stupid thing to do, since the rifles were old 
and of no great use, while the seizure of them was a piece of disrespect to the 
Custodian of the Holy Places, which much inflamed local opinion. It was 
believed to be a prelude to a campaign for the Turkification of Mecca and 

It showed Hussein that he had grown suspect to the Young Turks, or lay in 
the way upon their new road. He set himself all the more determinedly to 
consider how he might counteract their plans. Shortly after this, in February of 
1914, he dispatched his second son, the Emir Abdullah, to Egypt. This was a 
definite move towards the strengthening of the relations which so far had been 
loosely knit. The ostensible reason for the Emir’s journey was to pay a visit to 
the Khedive Abbas Hilmi. But the Turks, who had their suspicions of what was 
going on in the Hedjaz, were not satisfied with his story. When the Emir had an 
audience of Lord Kitchener they were still less satisfied, and from 
Constantinople they conveyed a message of this dissatisfaction. Lord Kitchener 
therefore did not see Abdullah again. Abdullah at the time had a mysterious 
plot of his own for involving Turkey with the chief Moslem Powers through 
some religious “frontier-incident,” but whether he embarked on explanations of 
this when he saw Lord Kitchener cannot be said. K. of K. 1 kept his own counsel 
on that point. 

But Abdullah must have made the general drift of his ideas evident, for 
when he asked, as he next did, to see in place of Lord Kitchener Mr. (now Sir) 
Ronald Storrs, who then was Oriental Secretary at the Cairo Residency, 
Kitchener instructed Storrs to avoid any encouragement of the Emir’s plans, 
personal or other. Kitchener’s own account of the episode is given by Sir 
Ronald Storrs in his highly interesting book. Orientations. He quotes a note of 
Kitchener’s to Sir William Tyrrell concerning his (Kitchener’s) talk with 

The Emir sent for Storrs who, under my instructions told him the 
Arabs of the Hedjaz could expect no encouragement from us and that our 
only interest in Arabia was the safety and comfort of Indian pilgrims. . . . 
The Shereef (according to his son) seemed to be disappointed with the 
result of his visit to Constantinople and with the determination of the 
Turkish Government to push the railway on to Mecca, which he saw 
would mean the economic death of the camel-owning population of 
Arabia. ... It will be interesting to see developments, as the Arabs seem 
to be much excited. 

Sir Ronald Storrs thus recounts his own interview: 

The Emir Abdullah showed a mind filled with Arabic poetry. 
Travelling by a series of delicately inclined planes, from a warrior past I 
found myself in the defenceless Arab present, being asked categorically 

1 [“Kitchener of Khartoum” —] 
Palestine: The Reality 

whether Great Britain would present the Grand Shereef with a dozen or 
even half a dozen machine-guns. When I inquired what possibly could be 
their purpose he replied (like all re-armers) “for defence,” and, pressed 
futher, replied that the defence would be against attack from the Turks. I 
needed no special instructions to inform him that we could never 
entertain the idea of supplying arms to be used against a Friendly Power. 
Abdullah can have expected no other reply, and we parted on the best of 

Sir Ronald Storrs in fact was as correct towards Ahdullah as M. Bompard 
had been fourteen months before towards Shefik Bey el Mouayid. As long as 
Turkey remained a friendly power, it was useless for the Arabs in the Hedjaz to 
expect help from Great Britain, nor was it to be expected that British standards 
of neutrality would become less definite in any way, whatever other nations 
were doing. 

But if there was a surer note in these British conversations, and if it must 
have been clear to Abdullah that what was said to him really was meant, it is 
equally certain that he went off with a conviction of an entente with Britain, if 
any sort of political convulsion were to disintegrate the established order of 
things in the Turkish dominions. Sir Ronald Storrs, it is true, seems to suggest 
that the Emir did not unbosom himself to Lord Kitchener, prior to his own 
interview with Abdullah, writing that “He appeared to have something to say, 
but somehow did not reach the point of saying it.” But the very instructions 
given to the Oriental Secretary presuppose that Ahdullah had either talked of 
war with Turkey to Kitchener, or of something so akin to it that both knew how 
the land lay. Ahdullah had brought to the Residency the news of his father’s 
inquiries in Constantinople upon probable Turkish action in the Hedjaz. 
Hussein would have had exceptional opportunities for learning the “inside 
story,” as it is called, in Constantinople, and knew of the great part Germany 
had in the intention to press on with what, after all, was a branch of her 
Bagdadbahn. Kitchener had listened to talk about the railway, and the 
contingencies from the extension of it were pretty clear. 

Captain Liddell Hart in his life of T. E. Lawrence cannot be assumed to 
have been speaking without data when he writes of the Kitchener-Abdullah 
interview that “Abdullah had found in Kitchener a sympathetic listener who 
himself had long cherished the idea of founding an independent Arab State in 
Arabia and Syria.” There is too the further testimony of D. G. Hogarth, 
Lawrence’s Oxford mentor, who was to play a prominent part himself in 
Anglo-Arab negotiations before very long, that “Lord Kitchener was already 
contemplating the possibility of an autonomous Arabia, between Teutonized 
Turkey on the one hand, and Egypt and India on the other, before war was ever 
so much as dreamed of.” 

To imagine that Abdullah came to Kitchener without any previous 
connections at all between Cairo on the one hand and Mecca and Syria on the 


other, however contingent and verbally correct these connections may have 
been, and however indirect, is not reasonable. Such connections had to be made 
as a mere form of insurance in the event of a break-up of Turkey, and they were 

However in February and April of 1914, there was no immediate prospect of 
a revolt, though the Arab menace was increasing fast. In Europe there was 
disquiet, but the Archduke Francis Ferdinand of Austria was still alive and well. 

In August the War, like a great engine out of the skies, crashed to earth and 
the countries of the West burst into flame. Kitchener left Egypt for Eondon. But 
the bearings of the conflict on the lands which were so close to his heart were 
not eradicated from his mind. In Syria the Arab nationalists were deeply stirred. 
At first it was but by a general sentiment that out of such a universal situation 
as was developing their chance ought to come somehow. Then as German 
diplomacy began to capture the Young Turks, and the possibility of Turkey 
becoming a belligerent became greater, that chance looked more precise. 

There was a certain strangeness in the prospective situation which the entry 
of Turkey into the War would create. The Shereef and his people would 
become enemy subjects, should Britain fight Turkey. But how far the Arabs 
contemplated this status as likely to endure was shown by a reminder which, as 
Liddell Hart states, came to Lord Kitchener in London from the depths of 
Arabia. It was “a cryptic message sent by a circuitous route” and it ran thus — 
“Following for Lord Kitchener. Remember our conversation. The day has 
come.” It is not difficult to imagine who sent it, nor what it meant. 

But this message was sent in August, while Turkey was still neutral. A 
month passed. The attitude of Turkey became more and more suspect. 
Kitchener, however, in London, was involved now in the intense 
preoccupations of the War in France. The French Government had evacuated 
Paris: our Expeditionary Force was retiring from the Marne. In Cairo, even, the 
Arabs were rather forgotten. But Sir Ronald Storrs, who has never received 
sufficient credit for his important action in this juncture, remembered the Emir 
Abdullah’s visit, and thought of the difference to a hostile Turkish force the 
legion of camels of the Hedjaz would make, either to speed, to weaken by 
abstention, or to threaten on the flank a Turkish advance in the Sinai deserts. He 
submitted, as he records, “a short note suggesting that by timely conversation 
with Mecca we might secure not only the neutrality but the alliance of Arabia in 
the event of Ottoman aggression.” 

While he was doing this, the most active arrangements were being made 
between the French and the Arabs of Syria for common action there against 
Turkey should she declare war. But they can be detailed later. 

Storrs’ note did not elicit a response at the Agency in Cairo till he turned to 
Captain Clayton (afterwards Sir Gilbert Clayton), who was the representative in 
Cairo of the Soudan Government, in whose military sphere of influence 
Palestine and the Sinai lay, and also Director of Intelligence of the Egyptian 

Army. Clayton “actively condoned my proposed irregularity of urging it 
(consultation with the Arabs) upon Lord Kitchener in a private letter.” 

In a week, on the 24th September, the answer to this letter came in the form 
of a coded cable to “His Majesty’s Representative in Cairo,” as follows: 

Following from Lord Kitchener. Tell Storrs to send secret and 
carefully chosen messenger from me to Shereef Abdullah to ascertain 
whether, should the present armed German influence in Constantinople 
coerce Sultan against his will and Sublime Porte to acts of aggression 
and war against Great Britain, he and his father and Arabs of Hedjaz 
would be with us or against us. 

Sir Ronald Storrs chose for this task an agent named Ruhi, a Persian, in 
whom he could place confidence. In Orientations the reader will find a 
fascinating account of Ruhi’s mission. He reached Mecca on the 9th of 
October. The Grand Shereef was not there however, but at a little village in the 
neighbourhood called A1 Taif, where he often went in the summer. There was a 
special reason for his presence there now. As Ameen Rihani tells in his 
valuable Around the Coasts of Arabia, Hussein was now aware that the Turkish 
Government was likely to throw its lot in with the Central Powers in the War. 
He had warned Enver Pasha against this, but in vain, and Enver had made clear 
that he would demand the participation in the War of the Arabs of the Hedjaz. 
The Shereef had left Mecca in anger, declaring that he intended to retire from 
all dealings with politics. His presence in Taif was symbolic of his 
unwillingness to follow the Turks. 

But he came back to Mecca to meet the British agent. Hussein, after inviting 
the latter to a meal with him and his four sons, saw him alone, and spoke of the 
letter to Abdullah which Sir Ronald Storrs had written. 

“My son,” he said, (Orientations, p. 174) “though I am as one uninvited in 
this matter I will yet speak.” He walked up and down and said, “The Ottoman 
Empire has rights over us, and we have rights upon her. She has made war on 
our rights and I am not responsible before God if she has made war upon our 
rights; nor am 1 responsible before God if therefore I have made war upon 

The meaning here was that as overlord of the Arabs the Turkish Sultan was 
within his rights to demand that the Shereef should not oppose Turkey in the 
coming war. Hussein first had agreed that he would maintain his relations with 
Turkey on condition that the Turkish Government granted instant autonomy to 
Syria and to Mesopotamia and released the Arab political prisoners whom it 
held. In short, he demanded that Turkey should recognize the Arabs’ right to be 
free of Turkey and to be under the nominal suzerainty only of the Sultan. This 
had been refused, and the Turkish leaders even had declared they would force 
conscription on the Arabs of the Hedjaz, so Hussein now felt he was at leisure 
to oppose Turkey, passively or even actively. 

Palestine: The Reality 


“Drawing back the long sleeve of his garment, he said (to Ruhi), ‘My heart 
is open to Storrs even as this,’ and with a gesture, ‘stretch forth to us a helping 
hand and we shall never at all help these oppressors. On the contrary we shall 
help those who do good.’” In addition to this message, a letter was delivered to 
the agent which he was to hand over to Sir Ronald Storrs. 

It is important to realize what lay in Hussein’s promise of helping those who 
did good. He was in a key situation. The great menace of Turkey’s entry into 
war against the Allies was in the possible effect of this upon the Moslem 
subjects of Great Britain and of France if the Turks proclaimed a “jehad” or 
“Holy War.” What result it might have was not at all clear. The Moslems of 
India indeed had been gallantly prompt in their reply to the Empire’s call to 
arms against Germany. But a war against Turkey was a different matter. It was 
generally hoped that it would not affect the allegiance of British Moslems nor 
make the Moslem world at large inimical to us, but there was no certainty of 
this. The issue was a critical one. 

Mecca was the saving point. If the probable Turkish proclamation stayed 
Turkish and did not become really Islamic, the danger might pass. It would be 
all very well for the Sultan or for the tame Sheik-ul-Islam to announce a jehad, 
but a summons to battle against infidel Britain and France did not ring very true 
from the allies of infidel Germany and Austria. The only peril lay in the jehad 
being countersigned by Mecca. If the Shereef accepted it and gave it forth, it 
would be a cry as from the tomb of the Prophet and would work who knew 
what havoc for France and for ourselves. 

Hussein’s letter arrived in Cairo on the day before Turkey entered the War. 
He had much to consider and very reasonably wanted proper assurances before 
he risked braving the suzerain who had garrisons in his very towns. “He did not 
forget,” as Liddell Hart puts it, “that it was the policy of the Turks to keep 
alternative Shereefs in stock” at Constantinople. He himself had been taken out 
of stock to replace a cousin. So he answered that he would not take any 
measure in Turkish interests voluntarily, and left it to Kitchener or to other 
spokesmen of Great Britain to extract what this meant. 

That was not difficult, of course, and as Turkey became a belligerent next 
day, it became possible for us to speak to him more openly. 

On the 31st October Lord Kitchener cabled: 

Salaams to Shereef Abdullab. Germany has now bought the Turkish 
Government with gold, notwithstanding that England, France and Russia 
guaranteed the integrity of the Ottoman Empire if Turkey remained 
neutral in the war. Against the will of the Sultan the Turkish Government 
has committed acts of aggression by invading the frontiers of Egypt with 
bands of Turkish soldiers. If the Arab nation assist England in this war 
England will guarantee that no intervention takes place in Arabia, and 
will give the Arabs every assistance against external foreign aggression. 

It may be that an Arab of true race will assume the Caliphate at Mecca or 
Palestine: The Reality 

Medina, and so good come by the help of God out of the evil that now is 


This held out a great prospect to the Shereef of Mecca, to whom alone the 
hypothesis of the Arab Caliphate could apply, and is also of the highest 
importance because of the use in it of the words “the Arab nation.” It did not 
merely accept the Shereef as the spokesman of the Arabs, it implicitly placed 
him in that situation and began negotiations with him on the plane that they 
meant negotiations with all the Arabs. 

Years later, after the need of finding arguments to escape from our bond to 
King Hussein became stringent amidst Government and Zionist advocates, 
endeavours have been made to decry Hussein’s situation. It has been asserted 
for example that he “did not represent the Arabs” because the Emir Ibn Saud 
gave him no fealty and indeed was always at variance with him and preparing 
to overturn him. The other Arab princes too of the coastal fringe had in nowise 
accepted him as their representative and the Lebanese had not accepted him, 
and so on. 

These autumnal arguments only have the red vigour of October’s leaves. In 
the first place, considering that we negotiated with King Hussein as spokesman 
of all the Arabs, we certainly cannot withdraw from him now the very situation 
which we ourselves extended to him. To accept him as representing the Arabs, 
and then, after having drawn all the advantage possible to us from this 
acceptance, to evade our part of the bargain with him on the plea that all the 
time he had not represented the Arabs — that would be a piece of scandalous 
sharp practice. 

In the second place, these arguments conceal an outrageous assumption, that 
the future King Ibn Saud and the other Arab potentates stood apart from the 
restoration of the Arab race. Their differences with Hussein were personal, not 
national. King Ibn Saud, after ousting Hussein, took up exactly the same Arab 
attitude which Hussein had held, in so far as the restoration of the Arab race 
was concerned. To present jealousy and even conflict for the leadership 
between Arabs as disagreement with Arab independence is to misinterpret 

It is to be noted that the agreement with King Hussein made by Great 
Britain was precise upon the point that there could be no question of his 
situation as negotiator being held in any way to affect the individual situations 
of the other Arab princes, in a letter which will be quoted shortly, which on the 
British side was the basis of the Anglo-Arab treaty, the High Commissioner 
said that he accepted King Hussein’s terms “without prejudice to our existing 
treaties with Arab chiefs.” King Hussein when replying said that he respected 
“your agreements with the Sheikhs of these districts.” It was specially arranged 
therefore that the treaty-position of Hussein should have no bearing on the 
existing status of Arab princes, nor altering effect on their relations between 


each other. By a necessary converse their interrelations and existing status at no 
time had any bearing nor altering effect on Hussein’s treaty -position. 

Still less can dissensions between the Arab princes be put forth as, by 
implication, support of Zionist pretensions. King Ibn Saud and his people are as 
desirous to overthrow political Zionism as they were to overthrow King 
Hussein, probably more so. No Arabs favour Zionism except a few unwittingly 
well-described “thoughtful Arabs . . . whose economic interests are not in 
conflict with the economic interests of the Jews” (Peel Report, p. 5). Such 
Arabs keep their thoughts in their pockets. 

1 return to Lord Kitchener’s dispatch. If it recognized that the Shereef of 
Mecca spoke on behalf of the Arab nation, it was not very explicit about the 
future condition of the Arabs. After all that was the Arabs’ matter. The dispatch 
however was accompanied by an assurance of our support of the Shereef s 
dynastic independence, and of our readiness to assist in the liberation of the 
Arabs, subject in his case and theirs to active participation in the War on our 

This assurance to the Shereef was by word of mouth. But written or spoken 
it was the first clear promise of independence in any form we made to an Arab 
leader, and deserves to be remembered as such. 

About this time, as Lawrence records, Lord Kitchener made overtures to 
another prominent Arab, a soldier, Aziz el Masri, who was in exile in Egypt, 
with the aim “of winning to our side the Turkish Mesopotamian forces,” largely 
composed of Arab conscripts under the influence of the “Hisb al Ahd.” 
Lawrence goes on to recount how the opportunity was lost through India Office 
opposition, and it is a bitter little story. The interest of it here is that it confirms 
how Kitchener was appealing to the Arabs to come to our aid. 

Hussein’s reply to the British “assurance” and letter was sent to Cairo. It 
was “an unequivocal promise that he would abstain from helping our enemies.” 
(Hogarth.) He promised neutrality, and would endorse no jehad, therefore, if it 
were proclaimed. 

The jehad , though, was proclaimed, early in 1915, and Hussein was invited 
or rather ordered, says Lawrence, by the Turkish Government to echo its cry. 
He refused. His refusal was not altogether a manoeuvre. He was not only 
Shereef of Mecca but a sincere Shereef of Mecca, true to his beliefs, and it did 
seem to him unlawful to proclaim the Holy War when Islam had not been 
attacked (for Turkey took the first steps in fighting) and when Germany was 
Turkey’s ally. 

By his refusal he laid himself open to the Turks’ anger and this was quick to 
follow. They dammed the flow of pilgrims, from whom Mecca drew most of its 
income, and the food-supplies which went there by rail. The Hedjaz was very 
dependent upon outside sources for its food, for the country shelved into the 
desert. We, on our part, now tried to balance this by allowing food-ships from 
India into Jeddah with a certain regularity. 

The Arabs of the Hedjaz therefore, in return for Hussein’s action, were not 
treated by us as enemy subjects. It would indeed have been singularly impolitic 
to have shown any form of hostility towards the enclave of the Moslem Holy 
Cities, whatever had been the attitude of the Shereef. The maintenance of the 
food-ships was, however, a tangible proof of our appreciation of his help to our 

Without mistake, it was great help. “The Shereef rendered Britain a service 
greater than any that could be expected in the material realm,” is the comment 
of Liddell Hart. “He drew the sting of the jehad. Outside Turkey now it would 
have little meaning, despite the assiduous efforts of Turkish and of German 
missionaries. Britain had a war with Turkey on her hands, but to all intents she 
was saved the back-breaking burden of a Holy War.” 

I cite these comments to emphasize the great obligations under which we lie 
to the Arabs, obligations too easily and too conveniently forgotten nowadays. 
Nor did Hussein merely help us: he took supreme risks for himself. He might 
quite well have played an easier hand, knowing that had he endorsed the jehad 
we could do little beyond blockading his coasts. We might not even have been 
in a position to enforce a blockade, because of the odium which might have 
resulted for us throughout the East if we had Lied to starve Mecca. 

Whereas by refusing to endorse the jehad he made the Turks furious. He 
settled his fate at their hands if they came out of the War as victors or reached a 
stage of it when they were sufficiently victorious elsewhere to be able to pay 
attention to him. They were otherwise occupied at the moment and had no 
troops to spare, but as soon as they had time and troops he might expect to be 
plucked from the divan upon which they had placed him. 

Hussein knew this, and in his mind was pretty well determined now to go to 
full lengths and to espouse the cause of the Allies in the open. If he were to join 
them he would have internal support and vastly enhanced prestige amidst his 
own race. He would join them not as the half-sovereign of the Hedjaz, but as 
the leader of all the Arabs. His position as such was becoming defined. Directly 
the War broke out the secret societies of Syria had got into touch with him. A 
secret Nationalist committee had been formed in Damascus, composed of 
Arabs from Syria, from Mesopotamia and from Arabia proper. This committee 
formulated a programme for the independence of the Arab regions and for co- 
operation with the Allies. This was sent on to the Shereef, to whom it was left, 
if he acquiesced in the programme, to negotiate with Great Britain for help in 
its carrying-out, in return for Arab support in the field against the Turks. The 
leaders in Syria were aware of the negotiations which had preceded between the 
Emir Abdullah and Lord Kitchener. They now brought their adherence to them 
and suggested lines for developing the negotiations into a pact. 

In the first weeks of 1915 the Shereef received various appeals calling on 
him to take action in accordance with this Damascus programme. “The 

Palestine: The Reality 


Committees of the Ahad and the Fatah,” says Lawrence, “were calling on him 
as the Father of the Arabs, the Moslem of Moslems, their oldest notable.” 

But for a month or two Hussein bided his time, watching the situation in 
general. A new High Commissioner, in the place of the absent Kitchener had 
arrived in Egypt from India, Sir Henry McMahon. He had instructions from the 
Foreign Office to “foster the Shereef s friendship.” 

Egypt had its own preoccupation, for the Turks had attacked the Suez Canal 
in February. This attack had been ineffectual and had been beaten off without 
much difficulty, but the Turkish force had not been pursued, and its 
commander, Djemaal Pasha, was officially understood to be refitting for a 
second effort. This was considered in Egypt to be a piece of bluff only, but it 
had to be watched. In April too came the graver preoccupation of the beginning 
of the Gallipoli expedition. 

Hussein’s son, Feisal, in his capacity as a Turkish officer went to the 
Dardanelles, and sent secret messages home about the difficult advance of the 
attacking force but the considerable losses of the Turks. The latter’s measure of 
success in resistance however and these same losses combined to make the 
Turkish Command talk of instituting the threatened conscription in the Hedjaz. 
The Shereef evaded this by raising a contingent of volunteers for Djemaal 
Pasha’s “resumed attack upon Egypt.” Since it was Turkish policy to pretend 
this attack was in preparation, Hussein’s policy was to pretend he believed the 
pretence, and to furnish men for an army which he expected would never take 
form. Even if some of them had to join the Turkish colours, the greater evil of 
conscription for all his people would be escaped. 

Meanwhile the Turkish High Command had removed its Arab troops from 
Syria, and dispersed them amidst German and Austrian troops upon south- 
eastern European fronts. The leaders of the “Ahad” had planned a mutiny of 
these troops, while there was but one Turkish division in Syria to their own 
five. The “Decentralization Society” was preparing plans for a rebellion of the 
populace at the same time, and circularized all its Syrian depots from Cairo to 
obtain an estimate of the numbers which might be recruited for this, and to 
inquire where certain leaders who would take charge might be hidden in 
security till the moment for rising had come. A promise of subsidies, of 20,000 
rifles and of the dispatch of three warships to cover Beyrout and the coasts 
during the insurrection, had been obtained from the French, French officers 
were to lead the insurrection, of which the centre was to be Zahle in the Bekaa, 
at the foot of the Lebanon slopes. 

Unfortunately these plans, which if effected promptly, might have altered 
the whole Eastern campaign, were never realized. The Ahad and the 
“Decentralization” societies worked independently, the French promises were 
given by officials in the Levant, not directly from France. The French military 
and naval chiefs had other things than Syria to occupy them at the time, and the 
promised help lingered. While everyone was waiting for everyone else the 

Turks moved the Arab divisions piecemeal under German supervision, and the 
opportunity was lost. 

Hussein had been asked at first to raise the Hedjaz when the insurrection 
would break out in Syria, but was not very satisfied with what he heard of the 
preparations, and demanded some sort of screen of Allies or of revolted 
regulars between himself and Constantinople. The dispersal of the Arab 
divisions ended this prospect. 

The emissaries of the Syrian Societies, though, who now were represented 
by a group of councillors in Mecca, still were for action, and the Shereef 
presently came to share this view. It is true that Feisal had advocated more 
prudence because of the growing insuccess of the Dardanelles expedition. But 
Hussein feared that this might be the very reason for an extension of Turkish 
activity into the Hedjaz. 

So he set all other considerations aside and made a bold and definite offer of 
revolt if his conditions based on the Damascus programme were met by Great 
Britain. This offer took the form of a letter which reached the High 
Commissioner in Egypt early in August. It is a letter memorable for the Arab 
race, because it was in its way their Magna Charta, the foundation of their 
independence. For the Arabs of Palestine it is one of the great salient events in 
the history of the question with which we are here concerned, and therefore it 
merits to be considered in a fresh chapter. 


The Treaty between Great Britain and the Arabs — Arab independence to be 

recognized and supported within frontiers including Palestine. 

The Shereef of Mecca’s letter to the High Commissioner in Egypt was dated 
the 2nd of Ramadan in the year 1333 of the Moslem calendar, that is the 14th 
July, 1915, so it took well over a fortnight to arrive at its destination. Fifteen 
years ago I published the essential passages of this and of the succeeding letters 
or dispatches which passed between the Shereef and Sir Henry McMahon, in 
the series of articles I wrote in the Daily Mail, but I think it as well to give their 
entire text now. This text, there is no harm in saying to-day, I received chiefly 
through the goodwill of the late King Feisal, when I was in the Near East in 
1922. It was not proffered to me: I set about obtaining it myself, as it seemed so 
wrong that — as was being done at the time and has been done since — these 
papers should be kept unpublished while the pledges contained in them were 
being denied. The text is the official text, that is to say the English version of it, 
from the Shereefial archives. It is the accepted first translation from the Arabic, 
taken very literally from the original. The grammar, occasionally faulty, I have 
left unaltered. Phrases within brackets, unless italicized, are part of the text. 

The letter of the 15th July, then, ran: 

Palestine: The Reality 


To His Honour, 

Whereas the whole of the Arab nation without any exception have 
decided in these last years to live, and to accomplish their freedom and 
grasp the reins of their Administration both in theory and in practice: and 
whereas they have found and felt that it is to the interest of the 
Government of Great Britain to support them and aid them to the 
attainment of their firm and lawful intentions (which are based upon the 
honour and dignity of their life) without any ulterior motives whatsoever 
unconnected with this object: 

And whereas it is to their interest also to prefer the assistance of the 
Government of Great Britain in consideration of their geographical 
position and economic interests, and also of the attitude of the above- 
mentioned Government, which is known to both nations and need not 
therefore be emphasized: 

For these reasons the Arab nation sees fit to limit themselves, as time 
is short, to asking the Government of Great Britain, if it should think fit, 
for the approval, through her deputy or representative, of the following 
fundamental propositions, leaving out all things considered secondary in 
comparison with these, so that it may prepare all means necessary for 
attaining this noble purpose, until such time as it finds occasion for 
making the actual negotiations: 

Firstly. England to acknowledge the independence of the Arab 
countries, bounded on the north by Mersina-Adana up to the 37° of 
latitude, on which degree falls Birijik, Urfa, Mardin, Midiat, Amadia 
Island, up to the border of Persia; on the east by the borders of Persia up 
to the Gulf of Basra; on the south by the Indian Ocean, with the 
exception of the position of Aden to remain as it is; on the west by the 
Red Sea, the Mediterranean Sea up to Mersina. England to approve of 
the proclamation of an Arab Khalifate of Islam. 

Secondly. The Arab Government of the Shereef to acknowledge that 
England shall have the preference in all economic enterprises in the Arab 
countries whenever conditions of enterprise are otherwise equal. 

Thirdly. For the security of this Arab independence and the certainty 
of such preference of economic enterprises, both high contracting parties 
to offer mutual assistance to the best ability of their military and naval 
forces, to face any foreign Power which may attack either party. Peace 
not to be decided without agreement of both parties. 

Fourthly. If one of the parties enters upon an aggressive conflict, the 
other party to assume a neutral attitude, and in the case of such party 
wishing the other to join forces, both to meet and discuss the conditions. 

Fifthly. England to acknowledge the abolition of foreign privileges in 
the Arab countries, and to assist the Government of the Shereef in an 
international convention for confirming such abolition. 

Sixthly. Articles 3 and 4 of this Treaty to remain in vigour for 15 
years, and if either wishes it to be renewed, one year’s notice before 
lapse of Treaty to be given. 

Consequently, and as the whole of the Arab nation have (praise be to 
God) agreed and united for the attainment, at all costs and finally of this 
noble object, they beg the Government of Great Britain to answer them 
positively or negatively in a period of thirty days after receiving this 
intimation; and if this period should lapse before they receive an answer, 
they reserve to themselves complete freedom of action. Moreover, we 
[Shereef ’s family] will consider ourselves free in word and deed from the 
bonds of our previous declaration which we made through Ali Effendi. 

For a number of reasons this was a remarkable document. To begin with, it 
was couched in the name of the Arab Nation, which thus was formally 
proclaimed in it as a political entity again in the world after centuries, never of 
eclipse, but of subordination. This proclamation cannot have come as a surprise 
to the recipients of the letter, for in his cable of the previous October Lord 
Kitchener himself had been the first to give back their old status to the “Arab 
Nation.” His use of the title betokened that even then there was an 
understanding between him and Mecca that the nation was to be revived as 
such. But now it was definitely, not incidentally, declared. It was as the 
spokesman of the Arab nation that the Shereef penned his letter. His personal 
Government was not mentioned till the second clause, and again in the fifth, 
where it was given the role of negotiating on behalf of the “Arab countries.” 

In respect of these countries the Shereef adopted the role of primus inter 
pares. But how far he sank his own identity and the fortunes of the Hedjaz in 
the general cause of the Arabs is evident from the final sentence, in which it is 
stated that failing a reply within a month the Shereefial family would consider 
itself freed from all previous declarations. The declarations in question were of 
course those made in answer to Lord Kitchener, Ali Effendi being the 
confidential messenger who brought in December the second of the previous 
communications from Mecca. 

In his message just after war had broken out with Turkey, Kitchener had 
assured Hussein that Great Britain would support his own “dynastic 
independence” and “assist in the liberation of the Arabs.” The first promise to 
Hussein himself was concrete, the second as concerned the Arabs at large was 
vague. The Shereef therefore sacrificed something by merging his claims in the 
claim on behalf of the Arab nation. In the light of later events it is desirable to 
underline this. 

No doubt the requirement that Britain should approve the proclamation of an 
Arab Caliphate may appear to be a sufficient recompense for anything Hussein 
might have lost in prospect, for he of course would be the new Arab Caliph. 
But the Caliphate demand was not a fresh demand: it had been canvassed 
before with Kitchener, who had agreed to support it. 

Palestine: The Reality 


There was a second very noteworthy point in the document which came to 
the High Commissioner. Not alone did the Arab nation reappear in it as a 
conscious and vocal unit again, but the boundaries proposed within which Arab 
independence was to be restored were based upon those which had been 
postulated twenty years before by the “National Committee” in the 
proclamation which it had published in Paris. The preamble of Hussein’s 
declaration was an adaptation of the Paris preamble, the heavy Gallicized 
formula “The Arabs are awakened to their historical, national and 
ethnographical homogeneousness” being turned into the simpler Arabian 
“Whereas the whole of the Arab nation without any exception have decided in 
these last years to live.” 

As for the boundaries, the Paris declaration did not mention the northern 
boundary, for the reason perhaps that it was not always so well defined where 
the Arab and Turkish races ran into each other along the edges of Asia Minor, 
from Alexandretta to the Persian border. Of the other three boundaries, 
Hussein’s declaration extended the Paris claim on the east from the great rivers 
to the Persian frontier. The southern and western boundaries, which latter 
concerns us particularly, were the same as in the 1 895 proclamation. 

Hussein’s document particularized the more general terms of the Paris one, 
assured to Great Britain the retention of Aden, and found a real matlmatico- 
geographical solution for the northern boundary. In both sets of boundaries the 
Mediterranean coast, the Syrian coast from the junction with Turkey to the 
junction with Egypt, inevitably was postulated, and Palestine thereby was 
included in the Arab dominions. It could not have been otherwise. Of all the 
boundaries of the Arab people the Mediterranean boundary is the most definite 
and most natural. 

These two things, the emergence of the Arab nation as a negotiating body 
and the continuity of its action from exile in west Europe in 1905 to Mecca in 
1915, deserve continuous emphasis. In the interests of the Zionist thesis the 
Shereef s demands have been treated sometimes as the wanderings of an old 
Oriental potentate putting his imagination impulsively on to paper. They were 
nothing of the sort. They were the reiteration of a programme long conceived 
by all branches of Arabs and now adopted by the Shereef in conjunction with 
them. (Mr. Antonius records 1 that the leaders of the Arab societies in Damascus 
drew up a document enshrining the conditions under which they would be 
prepared to cooperate with Britain against Turkey. It provided almost word for 
word the first of King Hussein’s “fundamental propositions” in his letter just 
quoted, and the others were developments of it. It was in fact sent to him so that 
he might make it the basis of his negotiations, and he did so. Feisal conveyed it 
to him, along with the tidings that the Arab leaders in Syria had sworn oaths of 
allegiance to him as spokesman of the Arab race should he accept it.) 

1 In his recently published The Arab Awakening. 
Palestine: The Reality 

His document, when it reached Cairo, caused some “searching of hearts.” 
Commander Hogarth, who records this fact, explains that there were various 
reasons for it. The ill-success of our arms in the Dardanelles and “a new doubt 
for the safety of the Red Sea route” were largely responsible for a relatively 
lukewarm reception. The prevalent attitude, except amid a few wiser men, was 
not so much to see in the promised Arab revolt a new help as a new 
commitment, in an area where we already had more than we had bargained for 
on our hands. Besides, the unequivocal character of the demand for general 
Arab independence had to be faced by various non-Kitcheners. Cairo was in an 
uncertain, worried mood, reflecting dilatoriness in London, and a reply was 
delayed till the last day but one of August. After saluting the Shereef with the 
customary compliments, the High Commissioner wrote: 

We have the honour to thank you for your frank expressions of the 
sincerity of your feeling towards England. We rejoice moreover that your 
Highness and your people are of one opinion, that Arab interests are 
English interests and English Arab. To this intent we confirm to you the 
terms of Lord Kitchener’s message, which reached you by the hands of 
Ali Effendi, and in which was stated clearly our desire for the 
independence of Arabia and its inhabitants, together with our approval of 
the Arab Caliphate when it should be proclaimed. We declare once more 
that His Majesty’s Government would welcome the resumption of the 
Caliphate by an Arab of true race. With regard to the questions of limits, 
frontiers and boundaries, it would appear to be premature to consume our 
time in discussing such details in the heat of war, and while, in many 
portions of them, the Turk is up to now in effective occupation; 
especially as we have learnt, with surprise and regret, that some of the 
Arabs in these very parts, far from assisting us, are neglecting this, their 
supreme opportunity, and are lending their arms to the German and the 
Turk, to the new despoiler and the old oppressor. 

Nevertheless we are ready to send to Your Highness for the Holy 
Cities and the noble Arabs the charitable offerings of Egypt so soon as 
Your Highness shall inform us how and where they should be delivered. 

We are moreover arranging for this your messenger to be admitted and 
helped on any journey he may make to ourselves. 

Friendly assurances. Salutations. A. H. MCMAHON. 

This was a thoroughly diplomatic response, and there is a certain humorous 
idiosyncrasy about diplomatic responses, which may be noted without losing 
sight of their serious import. A letter such as the Shereef s may make some 
cardinal proposition, and you would imagine therefore that the reply to it must 
either accept or refuse this proposition or say that a verdict upon its 
acceptability will be given later. Not at all. The diplomatic response ignores the 
cardinal proposition. The diplomatic response is given to an imaginary 


proposition, which not only is not cardinal, but is not even to be found in the 
letter which is being answered. The recipient of the letter in question blandly 
assures its sender that he will give every consideration to what the sender has 
nowhere put forward. In the case in point the Shereef had demanded 
independence for the whole group of Arab countries, but Sir Henry McMahon 
warmly confirms the independence of Arabia, which peninsula the Shereef had 
never mentioned. 

The Shereef did obtain the reaffirmation of British approval for his 
prospective Caliphate. But after that, in the Cairo response, came the artistic 
waiving of details. The pertinent question of boundaries was given an 
altogether different air by the introduction (from nowhere) of two additional, 
cognate words, “limits” and “frontiers.” By introducing the extra words and by 
stringing the three together the impression was conveyed that the Shereef 
wanted limits and boundaries and frontiers and Heaven knows what else. His 
one plain enumeration of boundaries was turned into a fantastic miscellany of 
requirements which the realist High Commissioner could but dismiss, nor waste 
further time upon in the “heat of war.” 

Next followed surprise and regret at the presence of Arab troops amidst the 
fighting forces of Turkey. Regret, yes; but only in a diplomatic letter from 
Cairo would it have been possible to feign surprise at their presence. 

However, the High Commissioner’s diplomatic recitative ended with this 
last show of suiprise, and he went on to an appreciated item of news in 
conversational tone. The Shereef, who had inquired anxiously, by separate 
letter, about the subsidies for the Holy Places contributed by Moslems in Egypt, 
learnt that he was to receive the alms which helped to keep his barren little 
State alive. It was the crumb of comfort at the end of a letter which left his 
proposals unanswered. 

The matter, of course, did not stop there. Hussein and his counsellors took 
Sir Henry McMahon’s reply on the rebound. The Shereef sent an answer to it 
on the 9th of September (29th Shawal, 1333) by return of secret agent, so to 
speak. It is a longer document than his first. 

To His Excellency the Most Exalted, the Most Eminent, the British 
High Commissioner in Egypt — may God grant him success! 

With great cheerfulness and delight 1 received your letter, dated the 
19th Shawal 1333 (30th August 1915) and have given it great 
consideration and regard, in spite of the impression 1 received from it of 
ambiguity and its tone of coldness and hesitation with regard to our 
essential point. 

It is necessary to make clear to Your Ecxellency our sincerity towards 
the illustrious British Empire, and our confession of preference for it in 
all cases and matters and under all forms and circumstances. The real 
interests of the followers of our religion necessitate this. 

Nevertheless Your Excellency will pardon me and permit me to say 
clearly that the coldness and the hesitation which you have displayed in 
the question of the limits and boundaries by saying that the discussion of 
these at present is of no use and is a loss of time, and that they are still in 
the hands of the Government which is ruling them, etc., might be taken 
to infer an estrangement or something of the sort. 

As these limits and boundaries demanded are not those of one person 
whom we could satisfy and with whom we should discuss them after the 
War is over, but our peoples have seen that the life of their new proposal 
is bound at least by these limits, and their word is united in this. 

And therefore they saw the discussion in it first the place of their 
confidence and trust the axis of final appeal now, and that is the 
illustrious British Empire: the feelings of its inhabitants to know how to 
base their future and life for not to meet her or one of its allies in front of 
their resolution when the thing comes to a contrary result, which God 

1 break off the transcript of the text here because of the obscurity in the two 
foregoing paragraphs, particularly of the second. The first is only clumsily put 
together in the English translation, for the meaning is clear enough, viz., “this is 
not an individual matter, I am not discussing on behalf of any single Arab 
potentate with whom the rectification of a boundary-line could be discussed in 
confidence after the War, but on behalf of all the Arab peoples, who perceive 
that their existence is bound up in the frontiers they demand.” You are not 
dealing with me only, nor am 1 acting for myself only, says Hussein in an 
Oriental way. 

The second paragraph, literally translated above, is more obscure, and the 
official Arab translator has appended to it an explanatory version which goes as 

Therefore they have found it necessary to first discuss this point with 
the Power in whom they now have their confidence and trust as a final 
appeal, viz., the illustrious British Empire. Their reason for this union 
and confidence is mutual interest, the necessity of regulating territorial 
divisions and the feeling of their inhabitants, so that they may know how 
to base their future and life, so not to meet her [England?] or any of her 
allies in opposition to their resolution which would produce a contrary 
issue, which God forbid! 

The translator has not been entirely successful in his own explanatory 
version towards the end, which might be bettered as: “Their reason for 
confidence in and desire for union with Britain is mutual interest, coupled with 
the need felt by the Arab peoples for laying the basis of their future in a way 
which will not bring either Britain or any of her allies across the path of their 
intent. God forbid any such antagonism!” 

Palestine: The Reality 


This paragraph, in any case, is not of importance save as an explanation of 
motive. I continue the text: 

For the object is, honourable Minister, the truth which is established 
on a basis which guarantees the essential sources of life in future. 

Yet within these limits they [the Arabs ] have not included places 
inhabited by a foreign race. It is a vain show of words and titles [i.e., to 
include such places would be a vain show of nominal claims]. May God 
have mercy on the Caliphate and comfort Moslems within it. 

I am confident that Your Excellency will not doubt that it is not 1 
personally who am demanding of [s/c] these limits which include only 
our race, but that they are all proposals of the people who, in short, 
believe that they are necessary for economic life. 

Is this not right. Your Excellency the Minister? 

In a word, Your High Excellency, we are firm in our sincerity and 
declaring our preference for loyalty towards you, whether you are 
satisfied with us as has been said, or angry. 

With reference to your remark in your letter above-mentioned, that 
some of our people are still doing their utmost in promoting the interests 
of Turkey, your Perfectness would not permit you to make this an excuse 
for the tone of coldness and hesitation with regard to our demands, 
demands which I cannot admit that you, as a man of sound opinion, will 
deny to be necessary for our existence. Nay, they are the essential 
essence of our life, material and moral. 

Up to the present moment I am myself with all my might carrying out 
in my country all things in conformity with the Islamic law, all things 
which tend to benefit the rest of the kingdom, and I shall continue to do 
so till it pleases God to order otherwise. 

In order to reassure Your Excellency, I can declare that the whole 
country, together with those who you say are submitting themselves to 
Turco-German orders, are all waiting the result of these negotiations, 
which are dependent only on your refusal or acceptance of the question 
of the limits [i.e., boundaries], and on your declaration of safeguarding 
their religion first and then the rest of rights from any harm or danger. 

Whatever the illustrious Government of Great Britain finds 
conformable to its policy in this subject, communicate it to us and 
specify the course we should follow. 

In all cases it is only God’s will which shall be executed and it is God 
who is the real factor in everything. 

The Shereef s letter concluded with some technical details about how the 
Egyptian alms for the Holy Places and grain for the Hedjaz population were to 
be sent. But in the Shereef s own words, “The said grain has nothing to do with 

politics,” and there is no cause to lengthen Hussein’s already sufficiently long 
letter by adding this finale. 

It is a long-winded letter, but for all that very much to the point and carrying 
some sly hits in it. In his own phraseology the Shereef told Sir Henry 
McMahon that the latter’s message was seen to be a piece of temporization. 
The High Commissioner’s air of not observing the Shereefs demands in 
nowise deceived that dignitary. 

He reiterated his situation: he was not speaking for himself: that must be 
understood once and for all. He was speaking now and henceforth for all Arabs, 
who knew of his demands, and had entrusted him with the making of them. 
This was as true of the Arabs serving at present under the Turkish colours as for 
anybody, and the part that Arabs took now in the War would depend upon the 
High Commissioner’s acceptance or rejection of the terms formulated in the 
Shereefs first letter. Hussein stood by these terms, i.e., the independence of all 
the Arab peoples within their natural boundaries. The boundaries he had 
postulated contained no foreign inhabitants, but were truly Arab. It was to 
Britain the Arabs now made their final appeal, as they believed that Britain 
could serve them best and they best serve Britain. God forbid that Britain 
should refuse this appeal, and that they should have to turn to the foe for help in 
securing their aims. 

The hint that the Arabs might be driven to come to an arrangement with the 
Turks was a timely one. Though a good bargaining move, it was no mere 
bargaining move. The Dardanelles expedition was now evidently no longer 
likely to succeed, and with the Turks victorious at the Dardanelles, the position 
of Hussein would become perilous. His only resource might be to patch up 
relations with the Turks. He did not care for this, because his heart was set on 
the British alliance, and all that would be obtained from Turkey would be a 
promise of autonomy for the Arab countries as provinces of Turkey. Whether 
this promise too in the event of Turkish victory would ever be fulfilled and he 
himself be left in Mecca was very doubtful. But he might be forced to 
compound upon those lines, if the present opportunity of acting along with the 
Allies was lost, and he and his people became isolated. 

It is to be noted that the Arabs, whom he represented, sought to join forces 
with the Allies at a juncture when things were not looking at all favourable for 
the latter. There was no question of the Arabs flying to the help of the 
conqueror: Hussein himself was fully informed of the setback at Gallipoli. Not 
long after his second document reached Cairo, indeed, the possibility of an 
evacuation from the Straits began to be considered. On the 11th of October 
Lord Kitchener cabled from London to Sir Ian Hamilton to ask what losses he 
foresaw if this operation were undertaken. 

Our authorities in Egypt, as may be imagined, were, careworn now. In 
addition to the great Gallipoli peril, other dangers had manifested themselves 
which, if small in comparison, were disturbing and might extend. To this day 

Palestine: The Reality 


some of these lesser troubles remain unknown by the general public, though 
they have been chronicled. “On every hand,” says the Official History of the 
War, “German and Turkish agents were at work to make trouble, seeking out 
weak spots, blowing the smouldering coals of religious hatred.” On the western 
frontier of Egypt the Senussi tribe was in communication with Constantinople. 
Enver’s half-brother, Nuri Bey, and a stiffening of German and Turkish officers 
was with the chief of the tribe. Sayed Ahmed, who had been urged (as Cairo 
learned from intercepted letters) by the Sultan to proclaim the jehad against the 

“This threat in the western desert continued to grow till it culminated in the 
autumn in war. ... In the Soudan also there were sporadic disturbances. These 
were due in part to the uneasiness which Great Britain’s war with the Caliphate 
(i.e. with Mohammed V, the existing Turkish Caliph) aroused among the 
Moslem population, but still more to the propaganda of Turkish emissaries.” 
( Official History.) 

On the west of the Soudan too, the Sultan of Darfur was rousing anxiety 
which was to be justified. He was planning in fact an attack on the Soudan 
which it was his role to deliver at the same time that the Senussi struck at 
Egypt. He did not keep this appointment, but was crushed six months later in 
the most ignored, the smallest and one of the most enteiprising actions of the 

At one time, however, the military and civil chiefs in Cairo, between him 
and his compeers, had about eighteen hundred miles of complications to deal 
with on the flank of Egypt and of the Soudan, in addition to the major operation 
at Gallipoli. At the gates of the Red Sea, too, at Perim and at Aden, attacks had 
been launched by the enemy. Therefore the Shereef s renewed offer to Sir 
Henry McMahon of an Arab alliance was something that could no longer 
receive a temporizing answer. The High Commissioner, who had been anxious 
himself from the first for Anglo-Arab co-operation and had not put Hussein off 
very voluntarily, pressed upon the Home Government the necessity of a definite 
step to win over the Arabs. 

Aubrey Herbert, who was engaged on politico-military missions then in the 
Near East, after being wounded when serving with the Irish Guards in France, 
arrived in Egypt that October. His record of the situation there shows how 
things stood, and his record can be trusted. Few men had had such intimate 
contact with the Moslem world as he, and few have enjoyed such qualities of 
head and of heart. He was that greatest of all rarities, a chivalrous expert. When 
he arrived in Cairo, he says, “the Arab question had reached a crisis. I saw the 
General (Sir John Maxwell, G.O.C. in Egypt), Clayton (the Chief of 
Intelligence), Cheatham (Sir Milne Cheatham, the Foreign Office 
representative), and the High Commissioner (Sir Henry McMahon). They all 
agreed that it was of almost supreme importance ” (the italics are mine) “to get 

the Arabs in with us, that the opportunity would be lost if this was not done 

Herbert, who knew the Turks so well, thought that they would before long 
come round to that offer of autonomy to the Arabs which they had before 
refused to make. “Three years ago Talaat Bey,” he said, “told me that the 
Committee of [Union and Progress; the Young Turk ruling group] had learnt its 
lesson in Albania and were ready to offer the Arabs practically any form of 
autonomy that they might choose to demand. He thought that these 
concessions, accompanied by flattery and the petting at Constantinople of the 
Sheikhs would dispose of the Arab question. The Germans have even more 
dazzling gifts to offer, and fiercer penalties to threaten, and the Arabs feel that 
the moment for making their decision is at hand.” 

The Arab attitude and Arab hopes were explained to Herbert by Aziz Bey el 
Masri. Aziz Bey, whom Lawrence calls an “idol of the Arab officers,” was 
unofficial Arab legate in Cairo at the time. Through him, as has been stated, 
Lord Kitchener had inquired, more than a year before, whether the Arab 
battalions in Mesopotamia might not desert to the British flag. 

Aziz was well qualified to expound his countrymen therefore and he told 
Herbert what the reader has already learned, that the strength of the Arab 
movement lay in its young men. The Committees of the Arab youth, the men of 
the secret societies, wherever they were placed, however, were wise enough to 
work through the Shereef of Mecca. They did not make the mistake of the 
Young Turks in despising reverence and tradition. Under the Ottoman regime 
many of them had aimed at winning autonomy, but the Young Turks so far had 
made that impossible. If England would help the Arabs they would accept from 
her a portion of what they were promised by the Germans. The Germans had 
made sweeping offers in British Africa. But if England remained cold they 
would have to make the best terms they could and that, in all probability, very 
soon. The way in which the War was going for us in the East made the Arabs 
fear for their freedom. 

Aziz, in fact, corroborated that what Hussein had said was indeed the 
genuine demand of all the Arabs, and he confirmed the need of speedy action. 

After communicating with the Government in England, Sir Henry 
McMahon was empowered to take this action. This he did despite certain 
complications which now beset him. They arose from the French aspirations in 
Syria. A French diplomatist, M. Picot (not too well chosen, for reasons which 
will transpire) was then engaged in what was described as “a mission of inquiry 
and consultation” in the Near East, which looked like the prelude to some 
official move or other by France. The nature of this had been forecast in Egypt 
to Sir Mark Sykes, a British knight-errant, under direct orders from Kitchener 
to make a report on conditions in the same area as Picot, though his 
commission antedated Picot’s. In July a French official had told him that 
“France must have Damascus.” 

Palestine: The Reality 


The truth was that the French at that moment were anxious to part the lion’s 
skin as soon as war with the Turkish lion began. They had a tentative 
arrangement, concluded in the spring of 1915, with Britain and Russia by which 
the spheres of influence of the three countries in the Turkish dominions were 
generally indicated, Russia to be granted the Straits and Constantinople. The 
spheres of influence of course were intended to become spheres of annexation, 
in the minds of two of the parties concerned, France and Russia, though nothing 
was defined and as far as France was concerned her aims in Syria might have 
been reached through a vassal principality. It was arranged that the agreement 
should take definite form later. 

It is important to understand that this agreement had nothing to do with 
rights. None of the parties concerned had any rights in the Turkish dominions. 
The ornamental religious protection given to Latin Christians in Syria by 
France, Russia’s similar protection of Greek Christians, gave them no territorial 
claims whatever on Turkish soil. The bipartite agreement was simply one for 
convenience in view of the division of possible future spoils, so that quarrelling 
and disputes about them might not set in at once, following success of Allied 
arms at the Dardanelles or elsewhere. 

That this was so — that there was no question of any “rights” belonging to 
any of the Allies preventing Sir Henry McMahon’s action — can be established 
from diplomatic documents of the period. They will be quoted in due course, in 
a later (the twenty-fifth) chapter of this book. It would complicate the subject- 
matter of the present chapter to introduce them textually here. It will do to say 
that in March the British Government had not accepted a declaration of the 
French Government that France would annex Syria in the event of Turkish 
defeat, and had declared formally that it was precipitate to divide the Turkish 
dominions at the present stage. The British memorandum which conveyed His 
Majesty’s Government’s views had gone on to declare that what had to be kept 
in mind was not division of this kind but the creation of an independent 
Moslem Power, into which Arabia would probably enter, to replace the 
(assumed) disappearance of the Turks from Constantinople. 

This Moslem State, the British Government said, it considered absolutely 
necessary. The French had to put up with this, but insisted on maintaining their 
contingent “sphere of influence.” The “sphere of influence” provided therefore 
a complication, but not an impediment in the negotiations with the Shereef. For 
these reasons McMahon, when he resumed correspondence, made allowance 
for it. It does not appear that he knew of the exchange of notes in Europe 
between France and Britain and Russia, but he had received general directives 
from London upon the subject of the French sphere. 

It was on the 25th of October that the High Commissioner, then, replied to 
the Shereef of Mecca. The document which he sent to him was an acceptance of 
the Arab terms, with a modification in the interests of France, as follows: 

To the Shereef of Mecca [with titles]. 

I have received your letter of the 29th of Shawal [9th of September] 
with much pleasure, and your expression of friendliness and sincerity 
have given me the greatest satisfaction. 

I regret that you should have received from my last letter the 
impression that I regarded the question of the limits and boundaries with 
coldness and hesitation. Such was not the case, but it appeared to me that 
the moment had not yet arrived when they could be most profitably 

I have realized however from your last letter that you regard this 
question as one of vital and urgent importance. I have therefore lost no 
time in informing the Government of Great Britain of the contents of 
your letter, and it is with great pleasure that I communicate to you on 
their behalf the following statement, which I am confident you will 
receive with satisfaction. 

The districts of Mersina and Alexandretta and portions of Syria lying 
to the west of the districts of Damascus, Hama, Homs and Aleppo cannot 
be said to be purely Arab, and should be excluded from the proposed 
limits and boundaries. With the above modification, and without 
prejudice to our existing treaties with Arab chiefs, we accept these limits 
and boundaries, and in regard to those portions of the territories therein 
in which Great Britain is free to act without detriment to the interests of 
her ally, France, 1 am empowered in the name of the Government of 
Great Britain to give the following assurances and to make the following 
reply to your letter: 

Subject to the above modifications, Great Britain is prepared to 
recognize and support the independence of the Arabs within the 
territories included in the limits and boundaries proposed by the Shereef 
of Mecca. 

Great Britain will guarantee the Holy Places against all external 
aggression and will recognize their individuality. 

When the situation admits, Great Britain will give to the Arabs her 
advice, and will assist them to establish what may appear to be the most 
suitable forms of government in these various territories. 

On the other hand it is understood that the Arabs have decided to seek 
the advice and guidance of Great Britain only, and that such European 
advisers and officials as maybe required for a sound form of 
administration will be British. 

With regard to the vilayets of Baghdad and Basra, the Arabs will 
recognize that the established position and interests of Great Britain 
necessitate special measures of administrative control, in order to secure 
these territories from foreign aggression, to promote the welfare of the 
local population, and to safeguard our mutual economic interests. 

Palestine: The Reality 


I am convinced that this declaration will assure you beyond all 
possible doubt of the sympathy of Great Britain towards the aspirations 
of her traditional friends, the Arabs, and will result in a firm and lasting 
alliance, the immediate result of which will be the expulsion of the Turks 
from the Arab countries and the freeing of the Arab peoples from the 
Turkish yoke, which for so many years has pressed heavily upon them. 

I have confined myself in this letter to the more vital and important 
questions, and if there are any other matters dealt with in your letters 
which 1 have omitted to mention, we may discuss them at some 
convenient date in the future. 

It was with very great relief and satisfaction that 1 heard of the safe 
arrival of the Holy Carpet and the accompanying offerings, which thanks 
to the clearness of your directions and the excellence of your 
arrangements, were landed without trouble or mishap, in spite of the 
dangers and difficulties occasioned by the present sad war. May God 
soon bring a lasting peace and freedom to all peoples. 

1 am sending this letter by the hand of your trusted and excellent 
messenger, Sheikh Mohammed Ibn Arif Arayfan, and he will inform you 
of various matters of interest, but of less vital importance, which 1 have 
not mentioned in this letter. [Here follow the usual compliments.] 

A. Henry McMahon. 

That was the crucial document. The Shereef had presented his terms and in 
it they were accepted formally, under the hand of the High Commissioner for 
Egypt, the appointed representative of His Majesty’s Government, who 
declared himself empowered to act upon that Government’s behalf. The whole 
is as solemn and binding an engagement as any into which Great Britain has 
entered. It accepts the Shereef of Mecca as the accredited spokesman of the 
Arab peoples and accepts them as a negotiating body, inasmuch as it stipulates 
in several paragraphs of what nature the relations between them and Great 
Britain are to be. 

Its terms are as plain as its character. It undertakes to recognize and to 
support the independence of the Arabs within the frontiers designated by the 
Shereef. But it makes a couple of provisos to this undertaking. It rejects the 
Arab claim to Mersina and to Alexandretta, in the northern boundary; and in the 
western boundary, which in the Shereef s draft was to be constituted by the 
coasts of the Red Sea and of the Mediterranean in succession, it makes a 
proviso concerning the extreme northern portion of this. “Portions of Syria 
lying to the west of the districts of Damascus, Hama, Homs and Aleppo cannot 
be said to be purely Arab and should be excluded from the proposed limits and 

The Arabic word here translated as “district” is equivalent to a town and its 
adjacencies, what we call nowadays “urban district.” The four towns or cities 
specified lie, as a glance at the map shows, pretty much in a straight line, one 
Palestine: The Reality 

below the other, in the order from the north of Aleppo, Hama, Homs and 
Damascus. The country lying to the west of them roughly corresponds to the 
coastal territory of the present French Mandatory sphere. At the time the 
document was indited it corresponded to the sphere of influence which she 

But if there was this reservation placed upon the northern coastal district of 
Syria, there was no reservation whatsoever mentioned of the southern sphere of 
the Arab territories, Palestine. For this reason, to-day, more than twenty years 
after this Anglo-Arab treaty was concluded, the treaty remains of momentous 
importance to Palestine. It is not indeed the basis of the primal claim which the 
Arabs make to Palestine, for that is based on their primordial right to their own 
country, and upon the illegitimacy of any Powers or of the League of Nations 
or of any governments or institutions disposing of territory that does not belong 
to them. 

But after that claim, this one comes next, that in this document of the 25th of 
October, 1915, Great Britain pledged herself to grant an independent Arab 
Government to Palestine. That this is a just claim cannot be denied. The 
reservation made by Sir Henry McMahon that the territory to the west of the 
four cities of Damascus, Horns, Hama and Aleppo must be excluded does not 
affect Palestine which lies, not west of these cities, but well south of them. In 
Syria, as it happens, the coastline is so straight that “west” is all but an absolute 
term there. There are no jutting peninsulas nor capes to be called “south-west.” 
Palestine is no more west of the French section of Syria than the lower half of 
this page which the reader has under his eyes is west of its upper half. 

Apart too from the inclusion of Palestine being self-evident upon the map, 
the very phrases of the treaty, as it were, asseverate its inclusion. Where we 
were free to act without detriment to French interests, that is where we accepted 
the Arab boundaries without question. In the Persian Gulf hinterland there are 
stipulations about administrative control, and about the acceptance of British 
advisers or helpers in the new Arab States, but about fundamental Arab 
independence being reserved anywhere in the section left to Britain, about the 
Arab flag not flying anywhere in the British section or about any part of the 
British section not being purely Arab, there is no sentence, no word, no comma. 

Palestine, in fact, is as firmly committed to self-government, under our 
tutelage, in so far as it might be required, as was the Hedjaz itself. I do not 
propose, therefore, to enlarge much further upon this point, important as it is, at 
this stage. We shall return to it, and to full examination of it, when we come 
unhappily to the endeavour of British statesmen to escape from the Anglo-Arab 
Treaty, in the interests of Zionism. 

All that need be emphasized for the moment is that in October, 1915, there 
was no thought in responsible quarters of anything in Palestine but of an Arab 
State under British guidance. There was no question of Palestine being 
considered a Jewish or part-Jewish country which required a special regime. 


Palestine was not yet invested with political singularity nor was there any show 
of inability to treat it, because of a supposed historic Jewish lien upon it, 
exactly as the other parts of the Arab territories were treated. In October, 1915, 
the official doctrine of dual ownership of Palestine had not yet been concocted. 

All the phrases and descriptions and formulas indeed which appertain to this 
doctrine, to which we have grown accustomed since upon the lips of our pro- 
Zionist Cabinet-ministers and other adherents of the Zionist doctrine, are all 
catchwords of yesterday, nothing but figments and pretences imagined in order 
to screen a theory which cannot bear the light and to give a long-descended air 
to a policy without antecedents. 

That required to be stated plainly. We can now pass on again to the 
documents exchanged by the Shereef of Mecca and the High Commissioner. 
Hussein had been urged, in the last quoted of these, to take up arms against the 
Turks without delay. In its text the hope was expressed that the immediate 
results of the new alliance would be the expulsion of the Turks from the Arab 

The Shereef however had some stipulations yet to make. He could not leave 
the Arab attitude towards the modifications and amendments of Sir Henry 
McMahon unstated. 

He replied quickly enough, on the Moslem date of the 27th Zul Hijj, 1333 
(5th November, 1915): 

In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate. 

To His Excellency the Most Exalted and Eminent Minister who is 
endowed with the highest authority and soundness of opinion. May God 
guide him to do His will! 

I received with great pleasure your honoured letter, dated 15th Zul 
Hijj [24th October], to which I beg to answer as follows: 

1 . In order to facilitate an agreement and to render a service to Islam, 
and at the same time to avoid all that may cause Islam troubles and 
hardships — seeing moreover that we have great consideration for the 
distinguished qualities and dispositions of the Government of Great 
Britain — we renounce our insistence on the inclusion of the Vilayets of 
Mersina and Adana in the Arab kingdom. But the provinces of Aleppo 
and Beyrout and their sea-coasts are purely Arab provinces, and there is 
no difference between a Moslem and a Christian Arab: they are both 
descendants of one forefather. 

We Moslems will follow the footsteps of the Commander of the 
Faithful, Omar Ibn Khattab, and other Caliphs succeeding him, who 
ordained in the laws of the Moslem faith that Moslems should treat the 
Christians as they treat themselves. “No,” Omar declared with reference 
to Christians, “they will have the same privileges and submit to the same 
duties as ourselves.” They will thus enjoy their civic rights in as much as 
it accords with the general interest of the whole nation. 

Palestine: The Reality 

2. As the provinces of the Irak are parts of the pure Arab kingdom and 
were, in fact, the seat of its Governments in the time of Ali Ibn Abu 
Talib, and in the time of all Caliphs who succeeded him; and as in them 
began the civilization of the Arabs, and as their towns in those provinces 
are the first towns built in Islam where the Arab power became so great: 
therefore, these provinces are greatly valued by all Arabs far and near 
and their traditions cannot be forgotten by them. Consequently, we 
cannot satisfy the Arab nations or make them submit to give up such a 
title to nobility. But in order to render an accord easy, and to take into 
consideration the assurances mentioned in the fifth article of your letter, 
to keep and guard our mutual interests in that country, as they are one 
and the same, for all these reasons we might agree to leave under the 
British administration for a short time those districts now occupied by 
the British troops, without the rights of either party being prejudiced 
thereby (especially those of the Arab nation, which interests are to it 
economic and vital), and against a suitable sum paid as compensation to 
the other kingdom for the period of occupation, in order to meet 
expenses which every new kingdom is bound to support, at the same 
time respecting your Agreements with the Sheikhs of those districts, and 
especially those which are essential. 

3. In your desire to hasten the movement, we see not only advantages 
but grounds of apprehension. The first of these grounds is the fear of the 
blame of the Moslems of the opposite party, as has already happened in 
the past, who would declare that we have revolted against Islam and 
ruined its forces. The second is that, standing in the face of Turkey, 
which is supported by all the forces of Germany, we do not know what 
Great Britain and her allies would do if one of the Entente Powers were 
weakened and obliged to make peace. We fear that the Arab nation will 
then be left alone in the face of Turkey, together with her allies, but we 
would not at all mind if we were to face the Turks alone. Therefore, it is 
necessary to take these points into consideration, in order to avoid a 
peace being concluded in which the parties concerned may decide the 
fate of our people as if we had taken part in the War without making 
good our claims to official consideration. 

4. The Arab nation has a strong belief that after this war is over the 
Turks, under German influence, will direct their efforts to provoke the 
Arabs and violate their rights, both material and moral, to wipe out their 
nobility and honour, and reduce them to utter submission, as they are 
determined to ruin them entirely. The reasons for the slowness shown in 
our action have already been stated. 

5. When the Arabs know that the Government of Great Britain is their 
ally, who will not leave them to themselves at the conclusion of peace in 
the face of Turkey and Germany, and that she will support and 

effectively defend them, then to enter the War at once will, no doubt, be 
in conformity with the general interests of the Arabs. 

6. Our letter dated the 29th Shawal, 1333 [9th of September 1915\ 
saves us the trouble of repeating our opinions as to Articles 3 and 4 of 
your honoured last letter regarding administration. Government advisers 
and officials, especially as you have declared, O exalted Minister, that 
you will not interfere with internal affairs. 

7. The arrival of a clear and definite answer as soon as possible to the 
above proposals is expected. We have done our utmost in making 
concessions in order to come to an agreement satisfying both parties. We 
know that our lot in this war will be either a success which will guarantee 
to the Arabs a life becoming their past history, or destruction in the 
attempt to attain their objects. Had it not been for the determination 
which I see in the Arabs for the attainment of their objects, I would have 
preferred to seclude myself on one of the heights of a mountain, but they, 
the Arabs, have insisted that I should guide the movement to this end. 

May God keep you safe and victorious, as we devoutly hope and 

In this communication the Shereef Hussein takes the very proper precaution 
of demanding a guarantee that peace shall not be concluded by his future Allies 
without their giving official support to the Arab claims. He accepts, in some 
ways more definitely than had been asked, British control in Irak — for a time 
and against a suitable consideration. 

But what concerns us most here is his first article. Renouncing Mersina and 
Adana, he still lays claim to the provinces of Aleppo and of Beyrout and their 
coasts rather than to the urban districts only of Horns, Hama, Aleppo and 
Damascus. He had been told of the French contention founded upon France’s 
protection of the Christian Arabs in Syria, but gave no heed to it. 

Sir Henry McMahon did not reply till mid-December. Much had happened 
in the interval. Lord Kitchener himself had come out to survey the situation in 
Gallipoli and in all the Levant. Plans for evacuation of Gallipoli were now in 
preparation, and a proposal for a landing at Alexandretta by the Allies in force 
(an army of 100,000 men was suggested) had been debated. Lord Kitchener 
examined into it on the day of his arrival at Mudros, the 10th of November. The 
Arabs could no longer take part in this scheme as they could have done earlier 
in the year, for the Turks, we know, had sent away from Syria the Arab 
divisions, sent them, says Lawrence, “anywhere, so long as they were put 
quickly into the firing-line, or withdrawn far from the sight and help of their 
compatriots.” There could be no mutiny now to accompany the landing at 

The Alexandretta plan was disapproved, as it happened, on strategic 
grounds, independently of this consideration, by both the Admiralty and the 
General Staff of the Army. But the chance in early November that it might be 

Palestine: The Reality 

adopted led to an important occurrence. The French Military Attache in London 
presented to the Chief of the Imperial General Staff a short note of which these 
are the first two paragraphs: 

Should the British Government be considering a disembarkation of 
troops in the gulf of Alexandretta in order to cut the railway to Palestine, 
they will have to take into consideration not only the economic interests 
but also the moral and political interests of France in these countries. 

French public opinion could not be indifferent to any operations 
attempted in a country which it considers as destined to form part of the 
future Syrian state; and it would require of the French Government not 
only that no military operations should be undertaken in this particular 
country without previous agreement between the Allies, but also that, 
should such action be taken, the greater part of the task should be 
entrusted to French troops and to the French generals commanding them. 

This was an odd announcement, for the French at the time could not have 
produced the troops to whom they demanded that the greater part of the task 
should be entrusted. The note in reality was a veto upon an Alexandretta 
expedition, and after a day of conference the Prime Minister cabled to 
Kitchener that our Government had decided against it. 

The chief consequence of the note, however, was to bring to a head the 
business of the French sphere in Syria — the preposition “in” under the 
circumstances having an unwontedly expansive sense. It was evident that Great 
Britain must know where she stood in this matter by getting the French to 
define their demands. Lord Kitchener had returned to England at the end of 
November, and in December his emissary Sir Mark Sykes, who had gone 
meanwhile to India to talk to the Viceroy upon the future of Mesopotamia, 
returned home too. 

Almost at once Sir Mark Sykes was commissioned by the Foreign Office to 
meet M. Picot, the French diplomatist who had been on mission in Egypt, and 
with him to put on paper a scheme for the definition and delimitation of French 
and British interests in the Turkish Near East. These were not their very terms 
of reference, but to this they amounted. The agreement when reached was to 
remain confidential, as the negotiations between the two men were to be. The 
reason adduced for this was that since it was a division of the lion’s skin, it had 
better not be published while the lion lived. It would of course be submitted to 
Russia, as whatever delimitations Sykes and Picot drew up would be the 
expected definite form of the earlier “spheres of influence” agreement. 

The French Government, through M. Picot, who in preparation for his 
mission had gone to confer with the Foreign Office in London, had been 
informed of the Anglo-Arab Treaty after Sir Henry McMahon had sent the 
crucial letter of agreement to the Shereef of Mecca. M. Picot, told on the 23rd 
of November, had returned on the 21st of December to signify French 


agreement to the situation on the lines of the McMahon reservations. The 
French would administer the coastal area, while Arab government of the four 
towns of Homs, Hama, Damascus and Aleppo would be “under French 

On the other hand Sir Henry McMahon was never informed of the Sykes - 
Picot negotiations. The Shereef Hussein consequently was kept in the dark 
about them also. The Arab bureau in Cairo, founded by Gilbert Clayton, to 
which Lawrence had gone, and Hogarth, and Newcombe — the gunner who 
disguised as a Bedouin had mapped the Sinai peninsula — and others who were 
to make considerable names, that too was kept in the dark. So that its business 
of controlling relations with the Arabs was vitiated unknown to it. 

It was in this ignorance, therefore, that the High Commissioner now sent his 
third reply to the Shereef. Things were as bad as they could be at the time in 
respect of the War in the Near East. The evacuation of Gallipoli was at hand: it 
started just after his missive was sent. Solium had been evacuated too, and 
hostilities against the Senussi had become necessary. German submarine 
warfare was beginning to impede Mediterranean communications. In 
Mesopotamia the British force under General Townshend was besieged in Kut- 
el-Amara, with no prospect of relief. It was more than ever imperative for us to 
gain the help of the Arabs. 

Sir Henry McMahon wrote, on the 14th of December: 

To Shereef Hussein. 

[After customary greetings and acknowledgment of previous letter] 

1 am gratified to observe that you agree to the exclusion of the 
vilayets [provinces] of Mersina and Adana from the boundaries of the 
Arabs’ territories. 

1 also note with great pleasure and satisfaction your assurances that 
the Arabs are determined to act in conformity with the precepts laid 
down by Omar Ibn Khattab and the early Caliphs, which secure the 
rights and privileges of all religions alike. 

In stating that the Arabs are ready to recognize and respect all our 
treaties with Arab chiefs, it is of course understood that this will apply to 
all territories included in the Arab kingdom, as the Government of Great 
Britain cannot repudiate engagements which already exist. 

With regard to the vilayets of Aleppo and Beyrout, the Government 
of Great Britain had taken careful note of your observations, but, as the 
interests of our ally, France, are involved, the question will require 
careful consideration, and a further communication on the subject will be 
addressed to you in due course. 

The Government of Great Britain, as I have already informed you, are 
ready to give all guarantees of assistance and support within their power 
to the Arab kingdom, but their interests demand, as you yourself have 
recognized, a friendly and stable administration in the vilayet of 
Palestine: The Reality 

Baghdad, and the adequate safeguarding of these interests calls for a 
much fuller and more detailed consideration than the present situation 
and the urgency of these negotiations permits. 

We fully appreciate your desire for caution, and we have no wish to 
urge you to hasty action, which might jeopardize the eventual success of 
your projects, but in the meantime it is most essential that you should 
spare no efforts to attach all the Arab people to our united cause and urge 
them to afford no assistance to our enemies. 

It is on the success of these efforts and on the more active measures 
which the Arabs may take hereafter in support of our cause, when the 
time for action comes, that the permanence and strength of our 
agreement must depend. 

Under these circumstances I am further directed by the Government 
of Great Britain to inform you that you may rest assured that Great 
Britain has no intention of concluding any peace on terms of which the 
freedom of the Arab peoples from German and Turkish domination does 
not form an essential condition. 

As an earnest of our intentions, and in order to aid you in your efforts 
in our joint cause, I am sending by your trustworthy messenger a sum of 

[Customary greetings .] 

A. H. McMahon. 

By this document the Shereef received the guarantee he had asked that no 
separate peace would be concluded by the British Government, and that the 
liberation of the Arabs would be an essential part of any peace-treaty. The 
Arabs in fact were made members of the comity of the Allies by it, and with 
Great Britain in particular it might be called a wedding. The prosecution of the 
War was now “our joint cause”: Britain and the Arabs were one. Even the gold 
wedding-ring was clasped on, in the final paragraph. 

The High Commissioner was not in a position to give Hussein a definite 
answer upon the territory between the coast and Aleppo and Beyrout. He 
supposed no doubt that the Home Government would come to a decision upon 
French claims some day, and that whenever this occurred he himself would be 
informed and would have to tell the Shereef. But he dated this announcement at 
the Whitehall Kalends, “in due course,” unaware that the Sykes-Picot 
negotiations had begun. 

He sent a private letter to the Shereef along with the official one, in which 
there is reason to suppose he warned him that it was no good holding 
everything up by insistence upon the North Syrian territory, as in this matter the 
British Government’s hands were bound, and the War must be over before they 
were unbound. Also any idea of monetary compensation in Irak had best be left 
for future discussion. 


His advice, by letter or word of mouth, was taken, and on New Year’s Day 
of 1916, the Shereef sent his final reply: 

In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate. 

To His Excellency the eminent, energetic, and magnanimous 

We received from the bearer your two letters, dated 9th Safar 1334. 
[16th December, 1915. Note. There is some confusion of dates here. The 
date of Sir Henry McMahon ’s letter is given as the 14th. His private 
letter may have been dated the 16th and the two were dispatched 
together. Or the translator may have made a slip. It is of no 
consequence, as the last communication from Cairo, whether of the 14th 
or 16th is the subject of reply. I now repeat the first phrase for clarity ’s 

We received from the bearer your two letters, dated 9th Safar 1334, 
with great respect and honour, and I have understood their contents, 
which caused me the greatest pleasure and satisfaction, as they removed 
that which had made me uneasy. 

Your Honour will have realized, after the arrival of Mohammed 
(Faroki) Shereef and his interview with you, that all our procedure up to 
the present was of no personal inclination or the like, which would have 
been wholly unintelligible, but that everything was the result of the 
conditions and desires of our peoples, and that we are but transmitters 
and executants of such decisions and desires in the position they (our 
people) have pressed upon us. 

These truths are in my opinion very important, and deserve your 
Honour’s special attention and consideration. 

With regard to what has been stated in your honoured communication 
concerning El Irak, as to the matter of compensation for the period of 
occupation, we, in order to strengthen the confidence of Great Britain in 
our attitude and in our words and actions, really and veritably, and in 
order to give her evidence of our certainty and assurance in trusting her 
glorious Government, leave the determination of the amount to the 
perception of her wisdom and justice. 

As regards the northern parts and their coasts, we have already stated 
in our previous letter what were the utmost possible modifications. And 
all this was only done so as to fulfil those aspirations whose attainment is 
designed by the will of the Blessed and Supreme God. It is this same 
feeling and desire which impelled us to avoid what may possibly injure 
the alliance of Great Britain and France and the agreement made between 
them during the present war and calamities; yet we find it our duty that 
the eminent Minister should be sure that, at the first opportunity after this 
war is finished, we shall ask you (what we avert our eyes from to-day) 
for what we now leave to France in Beyrout and its coasts. 

Palestine: The Reality 

I do not find it necessary to draw your attention to the fact that our 
plan is of greater security to the interests and presumption of the rights of 
Great Britain than it is to us; and will necessarily be so, whatever may 
happen, so that Great Britain may finally see all her own peoples in that 
contentment and advancement which she is endeavouring to establish for 
them now, especially as her allies being neighbours to us will be the 
germ of difficulties and discussions with which there will be no peace of 
mind. In addition to which the people of Beyrout decidedly will never 
accept such isolations, and they may oblige us to undertake new 
measures which may exercise Great Britain, certainly not less than her 
present troubles, because of our belief and certainty in the reciprocity of 
our interests, which is the only cause that caused us never to care to 
negotiate with any Power but you. Consequently, it is impossible to 
allow any derogation that gives France, or any other Power, a span of 
land in those regions. 

On receipt of this Sir Henry McMahon cabled home for final instructions. 
The Shereef had shown himself accommodating by his willingness to adjourn a 
settlement in North Syria with the French till the close of the War. He did not 
accept an iota of the French claims, though. To obtain an adjournment and to 
leave the issue open, however, fitted in temporarily, if it did nothing else, with 
the Foreign Office’s plans for the coming Sykes-Picot arrangement with 
France. All really would depend in the upshot upon how far this arrangement 
conformed to the Treaty with Hussein. What would happen if the Shereef and 
the Arabs were confronted eventually with an arrangement which did not so 
conform, no one apparently stopped to consider. 

So the High Commissioner was told to close with the terms as now finally 
adjusted. There was some satisfaction indeed that the Shereef had not stuck out 
for more. We needed the Arabs very, very badly, and the High Commissioner 
actually had in his desk a permit to abandon all claim to British control in the 
provinces of Basra and Baghdad if something more were needful to bring the 
Arabs in. 

Sir Henry wrote to the Shereef a short final letter on the 30th January 

I have received orders from my Government to inform you that all 
your demands are accepted, and that all that you ask for will be sent. 

What had been requested was munitions and funds, and the rest of the letter 
dealt with technical details. The Shereef acknowledged it from Mecca on the 
14th Rabi el Ahar (Rabi IT) 1334 {16th of February , 1916 ) in a short final letter, 

I have received with joy and happiness your last letter, dated 24th 
Rabi 1, 1334 [30th January, 1916] and I have taken thorough 


understanding of what it contained. I shall — God willing — work to write 
the word of the Arabs and to begin with God’s permission the activities 
soon [i.e., shall strive to put on record how the Arabs keep their word 
and shall with God’s will start our hostilities soon]. 

The rest of the text of this final letter was lost in Mecca at the fall of the 
Hashimite dynasty. But it was not of consequence. The McMahon-Hussein 
Correspondence, as it is generally called, closed as a political instrument with 
Great Britain’s acceptance of the Shereef of Mecca’s final terms. It is a 
correspondence only in so far as the papers which compose it, owing to the 
distance between the negotiators, had to be exchanged in the form of letters. 
But in fact it was as much of a correspondence in the ordinary sense of that 
word as were the notes which the negotiators of Versailles occasionally pushed 
across the table to each other. 

It constitutes the negotiations of a treaty and the conclusion of a treaty. The 
pertinent portions of its text enunciate and then ratify the terms. It is a treaty. 
The Shereef of Mecca described it in his first document as a treaty, and the 
terms thus enunciated were accepted. Mr. Lloyd George himself as Prime 
Minister acknowledged, and indeed insisted to the French Government, that it 
had treaty-force. 

It forms a lengthy set of documents, particularly if read with the 
explanations made necessary to describe its course as negotiations went along, 
and on some counts 1 should have preferred to quote its salient passages only. 
But I have decided to give it in full because it has never been published in 
Britain, 1 nor, as far as I know, been published at all anywhere, save in Arabic 

Reading the full text the reader too is made aware better of the attitude of 
the persons concerned in the negotiations. 

Some things stand out. Under all the occasionally involved phraseology of 
the Shereef he is seen to be a shrewd, yet straightforward negotiator. He is seen 
to be anxious for alliance with us, and to repose full trust in our promise. 

On our part, the essential pledges we made were clearly and definitely 
phrased. “Great Britain is prepared to recognize and support the independence 

1 Since this book has been completed Mr. George Antonius has included the McMahon- 
Hussein Correspondence in his The Arab Awakening. Equally a scholar in English and 
in Arabic, he has made his own translation of the text, and the reader will find interest 
in comparing it with literal version given to me in 1922. Mr. Antonius writes a full 
account of the rise of the Arab societies, which should be read to supplement my brief 
summary. The same may be said of his account of the Arab revolt. I have had the 
benefit of Mr. Antonius’s wide knowledge and erudition when preparing Chapter XV 
of the present work, and the reader will find elucidation and confirmation of various 
details in that and in adjoining chapters in Mr. Antonius’s admirable book. 

Palestine: The Reality 

of the Arabs within the territories included in the limits and boundaries 
proposed by the Shereef of Mecca.” 

These boundaries enclosed Palestine. There was no mention of its exclusion. 
We gave our word that on its soil the Arabs should be free of all foreign control 
save such as they chose of their own will. 

Furthermore, we gave our word to the Shereef Hussein, not as Shereef of 
Mecca, but as the representative of the Arab peoples, amongst whom are the 
Arabs of Palestine, so that we are directly indentured to them. 

The terms which he stipulated were drawn up by him in concert with 
members of national societies which had their roots in Palestine. They 
reproduced boundaries which had long been the fundamental programme of 
these societies, comprising all the land facing the Mediterranean from Asia 
Minor to the Egyptian borders. 


The Progress of Zionism — Weizmann, Balfour, Sir Herbert Samuel appear — 

Zionist approaches to Asquith, Lloyd George and Grey — Another Manchester 

School — The first false step — The Grey Memorandum. 

While the Arabs had moved onto recognition of their independence and to 
alliance with Britain, what had happened amidst the Zionists? 

At the outbreak of the War there were fifty-nine Jewish colonies in 
Palestine, nurturing a population of some twelve thousand inhabitants. Some 
seventy thousand more were congregated in the towns, mostly in Jerusalem. Of 
the eighty thousand odd in Palestine the great majority, between fifty-five 
thousand and sixty thousand, had come into the country during the last thirty 

Most of the colonies were subsidized by wealthy Jews, especially by the 
philanthropic Baron Edmond de Rothschild, of the French branch of the great 
family. In Jerusalem the Jews maintained themselves in great part by the help 
of pious offerings from co-religionists of all classes throughout the world. 

Latter-day Zionists have not much good to say for the pre-War Zionists 
because they were so largely maintained by others. Their establishments have 
been called almshouses. But they practised a Zionism which did not seek to 
oust the Arabs. They came back to the country in the one guise which, 
intolerable to their recent successors, yet consorts with the aim of seeking 
Zion — in the guise of pilgrims. Moved by their faith, they entered the country 
without making demands of any sort, and having learnt, it would seem, from 
what numbers of them had endured in Russia not to act arbitrarily towards 
another race in false reaction from their own sufferings. 

In 1914 a scheme of intenser colonization was being studied as a result of 
the resolutions of the Eleventh Zionist Congress of the previous year. There 


was a plan being mooted already for a Jewish university in Jerusalem and 
Baron Edmond de Rothschild was about to make big purchases of land to 
establish fresh colonies. 

August saw all this activity suddenly brought to a stop. Zionism, an 
international cult, was split by the War. It was strongest in Russia, but it had an 
organization of importance in Germany. Its central offices were in Berlin, but 
its funds were mainly concentrated in British banks, though in England, 
according to Zionist testimony, “the least significant group of Zionists” was to 
be found. As for Palestine itself, German Zionist organizations were prominent 

At first the leaders of Zionism opened a centre in Copenhagen, hoping to 
keep the international organization together upon neutral soil. This proved 
impracticable, and presently they changed their attitude. The entry of Turkey 
into the War was responsible for this. Now that she had become a belligerent 
she ran the risks of defeat, and if she were defeated the Allies ought to be in a 
position to dictate the future lot of much, perhaps of all Turkish territory. This 
might include Palestine, and therefore if Zionism were to attach itself to the 
Allied cause, the way to a Jewish Palestine might lie open at last. 

The Zionist leaders lost no time in making their attempt, and they chose 
England as the country in which to make it. “Hopes from the outset,” says Mr. 
Stein, “were centred mainly on Britain. . . . Great Britain’s genius for colonial 
administration, her reputation as a liberal power, the generous instincts with 
which the Jews in particular had every reason to credit her,” her successive 
offers of land for Jewish settlement in East Africa and in the Sinai Peninsula — 
all these had marked her out as the Power first to approach. 

Mr. Stein says nothing of the influence which could be exerted in Britain by 
the Jewish body, and some might think this an omission on his part. But it is not 
so. What is generally meant by “Jewish influence” had little to do with the 
launching of the political Zionist campaign in this country. For some reason 
“Jewish influence” is always taken to mean financial influence behind the 
scenes. I shall not delay to speak of this particular form of influence except to 
say that as a rule it is not very reasonably treated, Jewish writers denying its 
existence and anti-Jewish writers declaring that it is omnipotent. 

In 1914, at any rate, political Zionism had made no headway in the Jewish 
circles which are called influential. Such personalities in Anglo-Jewry as were 
enshrined in the Directory of Directors were altogether uninterested in it and 
generally ignorant of its very existence. But there is another kind of Jewish 
influence at work in England, and it was to this that political Zionism now 
trusted itself. 

The men who were to spread its doctrines were not far to seek. Two of the 
chiefs of Zionism in the Russian dominions, M. Tschlenow of Moscow and M. 
Nahum Sokolov of Warsaw, journeyed to London. They were joined in their 

work by a man whose name was to become best known among the names of all 
political Zionists, Dr. Chaim Weizmann. 

Dr. Weizmann had been born in Grodno in Poland just about forty years 
before. He had emigrated to England, after some time passed in Switzerland, 
(where he had known Trotski and had often publicly combated his opinions), 
and had become a lecturer in Chemistry at Manchester University. He had been 
naturalized as a British subject. As a chemist he was extremely able, and to his 
professional parts he added eloquence and marked individuality. Mr. Horace 
Samuel speaks of Dr. Weizmann’s “Mephistophelian face and subtle, sinister 
charm.” He gives a picture of him addressing a Jewish battalion of the Royal 
Fusiliers in Cairo during the War. “1 well remember how he addressed them. 
Lolling at a table with his hands deep in his trouser-pockets, he just spoke to 
them easily and racily and familiarly, in their own and his own native Yiddish, 
getting his points well away with that idiomatic shrug and gesture which 
constitute one of the most intimate parts of the language. 

“The audience responded to a man. They were all his, body and soul, ready 
to leap into his pocket at the first word of command. As he walked across the 
camp the men just followed him like rats after the Pied Piper.” But Dr. 
Weizmann has always been able to pipe his Pan-like summons to the 
intellectual as to the private soldier, and men have fallen in behind him in 
drawing-rooms as they have in camps. One who was present has told me of the 
irresistible potency with which he saw him once draw Lord Balfour aside after 
a dinner in Lady Astor’s house, as he remembers, and how the two sat together 
on a sofa for an hour or more, oblivious of all present. It was in the course of 
hours like this that the foundations of political Zionism in England were laid. 

The foundation-stone itself may be said to have been laid ten or eleven years 
before the date of the conversation just mentioned. Appropriately enough this 
event was enshrouded by the mists of Manchester. Balfour was electioneering 
(he was still A. J. Balfour then) in that city, which has always been an 
important focus of Jewry. His chairman was a Jew, a Mr. Dreyfus, and he took 
occasion of this to inquire through him why the Zionist Organization had 
rejected the offer of territory in East Africa which had been made to that body 
in 1903 under his own Premiership. 

The rejection of this offer had roused in Balfour, says his niece and 
biographer Mrs. Dugdale, “a curiosity which he found no means to satisfy.” He 
told Mr. Dreyfus that he wanted to “fathom the reasons for it.” It was a matter 
which had lain in his mind, for he was interested in the Jews. The future of 
Jewry as a subject was one of his favourite distractions. Of Zionism he had 
been aware for a considerable while in that sidelong way of his, when his mind 
seemed to enter and to retreat from a subject at once. 

That he needed really to “fathom” the reasons of Zionist refusal of the East 
African offer is unlikely. The reasons, if only out of common politeness, must 
have been given to him as Prime Minister, when the offer was not accepted. 

Palestine: The Reality 


They also had been fully discussed at the sittings of the Sixth Zionist Congress. 
But Balfour characteristically had recoiled from overt knowledge of a matter in 
which he had played a prime part, and his artificial ignorance now had to be 

For this puipose Mr. Dreyfus sent Dr. Weizmann, whom he knew as an 
ardent Zionist, to Balfour’s hotel, and the young lecturer in chemistry and the 
statesman met thus for the first time. Mrs. Dugdale recounts the interview 
which followed. Sympathy was engendered immediately between the two men 
so differently circumstanced. Dr. Weizmann, however, was not quite fluent in 
the English tongue then, and found some difficulty in making his points. 
Finally, though, he found a way. “1 began to sweat blood to make my meaning 
clear through my English. At the end I made an effort: I had an idea. 1 said, 
‘Mr. Balfour, if you were offered Paris instead of London, would you take it? 
Would you take Paris instead of London?’ Fie looked surprised and said, ‘But 
London is our own.’ 1 said, ‘Jerusalem was our own when London was a 
marsh.’ ‘That’s true,’ was his reply.” 

Balfour seems to have been dumbfounded by Dr. Weizmann’ s remark. The 
interview ended under the impact of it. “It was from this talk with Weizmann,” 
he said in later years to Mrs. Dugdale, “that 1 saw that the Jewish form of 
patriotism was unique.” Balfour, she continues, “pursued the train of reflection 
then started for the next few years, intermittently no doubt, but with the ardour 
reserved for his speculative moments.” 

One accepts, of course, the accuracy of the biographer’s record of this 
interview, which was to have such important bearings. But there is no 
obligation to accept Mr. Balfour’s attitude as real. Was this very erudite person 
to be struck all-of-a-heap, like a charwoman told a commonplace, when he was 
informed that Jerusalem had been Jewish long ago? Was this ardent student of 
the Jewish situation to be amazed at claims which had been current for a 
decade? It is not to be credited. 

This rhetorical ingenuousness gave a clue the manner in which Mr. Balfour 
might lead himself or be led to envisage the future of Palestine. When he and 
Weizmann next met, eight years had passed and the War had been in progress 
for four months. In the interval Dr. Weizmann’s status had altered no little. His 
professional attainments soon brought him to notice in Manchester. He made 
the acquaintance of a number of its prominent citizens, and amongst these was 
Mr. C. P. Scott, the widely known editor of the Manchester Guardian. Scott, 
under his influence, became an adherent of Zionism, which cause thereby 
gained an invaluable entry to the columns of a great English newspaper. But 
that the Guardian should espouse Zionism was indeed almost a natural event. It 
was the protagonist of a school of thought which always found many of the 
Jewish intelligentsia in its ranks, and the newspaper itself had several of them 
amongst its staff abroad. So when Weizmann indoctrinated Scott and the 
Guardian, it was like the sowing of grass-seed upon a lawn. 

Dr. Weizmann’s reunion with Lord Balfour took place in mid-December. 
He “found the conversation of eight years back fresh in Balfour’s mind.” They 
continued this conversation “on abstract lines.” But before they parted Lord 
Balfour asked if he could help Dr. Weizmann in any way. “Not while the guns 
are roaring,” said Weizmann; “when the military situation becomes clearer 1 
shall come again.” “Mind you come again,” said Balfour; “it is a great cause 
you are working for. 1 should like you to come again and again.” (Dugdale.) 

As soon as Turkey entered the War, Weizmann started to elaborate his 
political ideas and produced “definite proposals for the establishment in 
Palestine of a national home for the Jews under a British Protectorate.” (Stein.) 
The next step was to bring these to the notice of men in power in London. The 
centre seems to have shifted away for a little while from Balfour: he was not a 
Cabinet Minister at the time, though on the War Council. Scott gave Weizmann 
and his two Russian colleagues letters of introduction to a pair of Cabinet 
Ministers, Mr. Lloyd George and Sir Herbert Samuel. 

What happened thereon Sir Herbert Samuel himself has explained, with 
characteristic carefulness and conscientiousness, in the course of a lecture he 
delivered to a private auditory in 1935. Speaking before the Jewish Historical 
Society, he explained that he was much impressed by Dr. Weizmann. 
Lurthermore, as the first member of the Jewish community ever to sit in a 
British Cabinet — Disraeli having left that community — he felt it was incumbent 
upon him to examine into the Zionist movement. Up till then he had had no 
connection with it. Now, besides conferring with Dr. Weizmann, he held 
conversations with M. Sokolov and with other exponents of the Zionist gospel. 

“1 soon arrived,” says he, “at the definite conclusion that if, as we all 
anticipated, the War ended in the victory of the Allies, Palestine ought 
undoubtedly to be separated from the Turkish Empire; that the opportunity 
should be taken to facilitate the establishment of a great autonomous Jewish 
community there; and that this ought to be done under some form of British 
protectorate.” He spoke in November of 1914 (which shows that Dr. Weizmann 
had approached him even before the former took up his post at the Admiralty) 
to Sir Edward Grey. To Grey he said, “Perhaps there might be an opportunity 
for the fulfilment of the ancient aspiration of the Jewish people and the 
restoration there [in Palestine] of a Jewish State.” “That was at the time,” adds 
Sir Herbert Samuel, “the Zionist proposal.” 

It is well to have this fact, clear though it has been from the outset, thus 
categorically and authoritatively stated. Sir Herbert went on to speak to the 
Loreign Secretary upon how a Jewish State in Palestine might become the 
centre of a new culture, how the sight of men of their own blood achieving 
great things in Palestine would raise the character and influence the outlook of 
the millions of Jews scattered in other parts of the world, how the proximity to 
Egypt of his Jewish State “ would render its goodwill to England a matter of 
importance to the British Empire .” The final words merit italicizing. 

Palestine: The Reality 


The next sentence — the speaker had transcribed from his original notes of 
his interview with Sir Edward Grey — is very interesting. It shows that Sir 
Herbert Samuel at least was aware of the existence of the Arabs. “The building- 
up of the new State from the foundations,” he acknowledged, “was, of course, 
an undertaking of the most formidable character, especially in view of the 
elements which were to be found in the present population of Palestine.” A 
remarkable twisting of realities, which treated the Arabs, 91 per cent of the 
population, as an “element” in it, but it was an advance upon contemporary 
Zionist thought and long to remain an advance upon all Zionist thought. 

Sir Herbert Samuel went on to suggest that the economic resources of 
Palestine could be developed if the right population were admitted and a 
“community of petty traders” avoided. As things have turned out, a community 
of petty traders is exactly what has been established since then in the town of 
Tel Aviv, with its 150,000 population out of 400,000 Jews in Palestine, but let 
that pass now. Sir Herbert Samuel ended by suggesting that the Russian 
Government might be sounded before long about the project, if military 
conditions seemed favourable. This, no doubt, was because of the concentration 
of potential Jewish immigrants in Russia. 

Sir Edward Grey said in reply that “the idea had always had a strong 
sentimental attraction for him. The historical appeal was very strong. He was 
quite favourable to the proposal and would be ready to work for it if the 
opportunity arose. If any proposals were put forward by France or any other 
Power with regard to Syria, it would be important not to acquiesce in any plan 
which would be inconsistent with the creation of a Jewish State in Palestine. He 
asked whether 1 thought that Syria must necessarily go with Palestine.” (“Syria” 
here is being used in the false restricted sense.) “1 said, ‘No, but on the contrary 
it would be inadvisable to include such places as Beyrout and Damascus, since 
they contained a large non-Jewish population which could not be assimilated’.” 

Here is a lesson upon the deficiencies of statesmen. Lord Grey, reckoned as 
one of the most altruistic, listened to Sir Herbert Samuel yet never observed to 
him that what was true of the north of Syria was true of the south also. The 
population of Palestine was not merely non-Jewish in the main: it was and had 
been for centuries overwhelmingly non-Jewish. As it was before the War, the 
Jews, half of them foreign subjects, were but 83,000 out of a total population of 
some 757,000. But Sir Herbert Samuel, while shrinking from the assimilation 
of a “large population” in the north, proposed by inference the “assimilation” of 
91 per cent of the population in the south. The Foreign Secretary, whose 
particular business it was to have at least a general knowledge of the Turkish 
Empire’s constituent factors, let this proposal pass. 

Worse than that, he himself ushered in the said proposal by asking Sir 
Herbert Samuel whether he thought that “Syria must necessarily go with 
Palestine.” That is to say the Foreign Secretary did not for one moment 
remember that Syria was a country inhabited by the Arab people, or by any sort 

of people at all. He spoke as though it were inhabited by draughts-men or 
halma-pieces, a land which could be cut in half or in quarters or could have the 
pieces upon it shifted about to suit his designs. But it was never his business to 
ask Sir Herbert Samuel whether Syria must necessarily go with Palestine, a 
matter with which Sir Herbert had no concern whatsoever. Grey’s real duty was 
to ask himself what justified his cutting the land in half in order that he might 
work out some scheme of his and his friends in the lower half. 

Sir Herbert Samuel went on to tell the Foreign Secretary that it was essential 
that the Jewish Palestine State should be neutralized, since it would not be large 
enough to defend itself. Christian pilgrims to the Holy Land should be 
guaranteed free access. If the remainder of Syria could be annexed by France it 
would be a great advantage, as it would be far better for the Jewish State to 
have European neighbours than Turkish. Sir Herbert Samuel, in after years 
more mindful, in this early recommendation took no more account of the Arabs 
than if they were the furniture of Palestine. 

That closed his interview with Sir Edward Grey, but he added that he saw 
Mr. Lloyd George the same day. His record of this visit ran, “I had an 
opportunity to-day of a brief talk with Lloyd George on the subject. He had 
referred in the Cabinet to the ultimate destiny of Palestine, and said to me that 
he was very keen to see a Jewish State established there.” 

To be keen on anything was a cant phrase of the date, and its employment 
was more a daily exercise of vocabulary than a guarantee of feelings. A couple 
of months later, on the 17th of January, 1915, which was Mr. Lloyd George’s 
birthday. Lord Riddell dined with him. He wrote in his diary afterwards, “LI. G. 
says there is a movement on foot to take the Jews back to Palestine — some new 
scheme — and that much to his surprise Herbert Samuel is very keen on it.” 

I think that this extract gives the measure of the respective keennesses then 
of the two Cabinet Ministers. Mr. Lloyd George so far had but played 
transiently with some halcyon Cambro-Hebraical vision of Judah re-enthroned 
in Palestine. Sir Herbert Samuel was considering the matter seriously. He was 
considering it so seriously that, even if a little late in reaching it, he did come to 
the conclusion presently that “an autonomous Jewish State was impracticable. 
In the conditions that prevailed, five-sixths of the population of Palestine being 
Arabs” (nine -tenths would have been nearer their proportion), “such a solution 
could not be adopted.” 

Note that Sir Herbert Samuel, though, did not find a Jewish State 
illegitimate: he only found it impracticable. The solution to which now he 
turned was “the establishment of British control, together with the fostering of 
Jewish immigration, and the conferment upon the new Jewish community in 
Palestine of the broadest autonomy that the practical conditions would allow.” 
This amounted to establishing a state of things in Palestine out of which the 
Jewish State gradually would come to life. The conferring of autonomy, also, 
would take the Jewish immigrants out of control of the people of the country. 

Palestine: The Reality 


So while Sir Herbert Samuel did not propose a Jewish State immediately, what 
he proposed made an Arab State not possible at any time. 

He prepared a memorandum on these lines which was circulated in the 
Cabinet. He says that he prepared the memorandum in January but did not 
circulate it till March. It would seem, however, that he must have sent a draft of 
it at least to some of his colleagues, for on the 28th of that month of January, 
1915, Mr. Asquith wrote in his diary: 

I have just received from Herbert Samuel a memorandum headed 
“The Future of Palestine.” He goes on to argue at considerable length 
and with some vehemence, in favour of the British annexation of 
Palestine, a country the size of Wales, much of it barren mountains and 
part of it waterless. He thinks we might plant in this not very promising 
territory about three or four million European Jews, and that this would 
have a good effect upon those who are left behind. It reads almost like a 
new edition of Tancred 1 brought up to date. I confess I am not attracted 
by this proposed addition to our responsibilities. But it is a curious 
illustration of Dizzy’s favourite maxim that “race is everything” to find 
this almost lyrical outburst proceeding from the well-ordered and 
methodical brain of H.S. 

Mr. Asquith judged the memorandum in his characteristic level-headed way, 
and his remark “he thinks this would have a good effect upon those who are left 
behind” shows that he did not believe much in the regenerative effect upon an 
individual of a tonic administered to his cousin. The most important thing in his 
comment, though, is the evidence that the Samuel project aimed at settling (no 
doubt eventually) three or four million Jews in Palestine. Such numbers, of 
course, would make a Jewish State practicable. 

There is no evidence that any of the Zionist leaders proper dropped the idea 
of an immediate Jewish State at the time for Sir Herbert Samuel’s deferred 
Jewish State. Indeed there is evidence to the contrary. Dr. Weizmann had gone 
to Paris in January, to sound opinion in French Governmental circles. Lord 
Bertie, the British Ambassador, recorded his visit on the 25th. In his diary he 

Edmond de Rothschild came this morning, and afterwards sent a 
Russian co-religionist established in Manchester to “talk” about what I 
think is an absurd scheme, though they say that it has the approval of 
Grey, Lloyd George, Samuel and Crewe. They did not mention Lord 

It contemplates the formation of Palestine into an Israelite State under 
the protectorate of England, France, or Russia, preferably of England. 
They did not think that Russia or France would raise objections. The 

1 [A novel by Disraeli. — http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Tancred_(novel)] 
Palestine: The Reality 

scheme-maker would be ready to leave the custody of the Holy Places 
and even of old Jerusalem to an international body. They would build a 
new one near by. . . . My Russian visitor says that such a solution must 
come within the next hundred years, perhaps in forty years. He hopes 
that I don’t think him a dreamer! The Jews are the only people capable of 
reclaiming Palestine by intensive culture ! 

Lord Bertie, an ambassador, whose whole business in life had been to speak 
of political affairs in accurate terms, would not have written that an Israelite 
State was in contemplation unless his “Russian visitor” had spoken 
unambiguously of such a State. The succeeding phrases confirm this too. A new 
Jerusalem is to be built as the Jewish capital. The ancient Holy City is to be 
“left,” conceded that is, by the Zionists out of their territory, for international 

There is a curious sequel to this intention of building a new Jerusalem as the 
Jewish capital which is worth interpolating here. In later years, when the 
Zionists were active in building their “garden-suburb,” as it was rather 
insufficiently termed, on the Bethlehem side of Jerusalem, round a prominent 
hill or swell of the ground, the general plans had to be sent in to the Palestine 
Government. Mr. C. R. Ashbee, the distinguished architect and man-of-letters, 
was in charge of the town-planning scheme. When he examined these plans he 
found a disproportionately large building prospected for the crowning site on 
the summit of the hill. He asked the designer, Mr. Richard Kauffmann, for what 
puipose this was intended. Mr. Kauffmann was the architect of the Zionist 
Organization, and his plans were drawn up to its requirements, of course. His 
answer to Mr. Ashbee, very seriously given, was, “Das ist wiser 
Parliaments gebaude” (“That’s our House of Parliament”). The High 
Commissioner, to whom this was reported, found the attribution provocative, or 
possibly found it premature. He gave orders in consequence and the “House of 
Parliament” became the “Gallery of Fine Arts.” There was a certain subtlety 
about the new title. 

I return to the memorandums and projects of early 1915. Sir Herbert 
Samuel, having distributed his memorandum, left it to take effect in the minds 
of its recipients. “It attracted,” he says, “a considerable body of support among 
Ministers.” The campaign was now so well launched in England that the 
Zionist leaders could give more attention to other countries for a while. 
Undeterred by the frigidity of Lord Bertie, Dr. Weizmann with his colleagues 
MM. Sokolov and Tschlenow went back to Paris. Presently, “full of great 
hopes,” M. Tschlenow returned to Russia to act as liaison-agent there. 

Back in England, Weizmann and Sokolov spent most of 1915 in quiet but 
effective spade-work. With charming naivete Mrs. Dugdale records that “the 
Zionists had not as yet access even to the corridors of the Government Offices.” 
But in compensation “occasionally they met various Ministers in their homes.” 


Mrs. Dugdale adds something to our knowledge of Sir Edward Grey’s mind 
at the time. “He was in full sympathy with the Zionist ideal, but was afraid lest 
mention of a British Protectorate over Palestine might offend the French, and 
offend also some English Liberal opinion. The Liberal Cabinet would not be 
likely to commit themselves to any responsibility for Palestine. At the same 
time they did not want to see it in the hands of any other Great Power. They 
might favour the organization of a Jewish Commonwealth there as an 
independent political unit. These views were not officially expressed, but the 
Zionists sensed them.” The Zionists were not without means of “sensing,” 
during home -chat with Ministers around their healths. 

Mrs. Dugdale goes on to say that whenever a chance occurred the Zionists 
pressed the arguments for a British Protectorate. It must have been when one of 
these chances did occur, though she does not specify when or how it came 
about, that Dr. Weizmann put his argument upon paper. 

If Great Britain [he wrote] does not wish anybody else to have 
Palestine, this means that she will have to watch it and stop any 
penetration of another Power. Such a course involved as much 
responsibility as would be involved by a British Protectorate over 
Palestine, with the sole difference that watching is a much less efficient 
preventative than an actual Protectorate. 1 therefore thought that the 
middle course could be adopted: viz., the Jews take over the country. The 
whole burden of organization falls on them, but for the next ten or fifteen 
years they work under a temporary British Protectorate. 

This was a pretty accurate forecast for 1915 of what has happened since in 
Palestine. But of course Dr. Weizmann has always been in the position of a 
Jupiter forecasting the weather he was about to manufacture himself. 

His excursions abroad or to London could not be many, however, because of 
his work in Manchester. So most of the chances of which Mrs. Dugdale speaks 
must have occurred in that city. Indeed, between Weizmann and Scott, and the 
recruits who soon joined them, Manchester now was turned into a regular 
Zionist base. “A large group of Zionist writers joined the leaders, conspicuous 
among whom was Major Norman Bentwich,” later to be Attorney-General for 
Palestine. Not all these recruits worked in Manchester but they were mentally 
provisioned from there. As for the Manchester Guardian itself, several 
members of its staff became active propagandists of the cause. Notable amongst 
them were Mr. Harry Sacher and Mr. Herbert Sidebotham. Mr. Sacher, a 
barrister, was to be notary for the Rutenberg contracts in Palestine and also 
became known, at least to a certain circle, as “For-Ever Sacher.” Giving 
evidence before one of the Commissions which have so often visited Palestine, 
and being asked how long he thought the British Mandate should last, his 
answer was, “For ever.” 

Mr. Sidebotham organized the establishment of a “British Palestine 
Committee” to spread the Zionist theories in the United Kingdom, and founded 
a publication ad hoc (already mentioned) entitled Palestine, which still exists, 
though I fancy that for a year or two there was a break in its continuity. He has 
proved the most prolific defender of political Zionism, and in many pamphlets 
has shown himself the leader of the idealist-realist school. This professes the 
idealism of the return to Zion and of the Mandate side by side with the realism 
of the possession of the approaches to the Suez Canal. 

While Zionism was thus consolidating itself in Manchester, major political 
events took place which were to affect its future considerably. Mr. Asquith 
formed a Coalition Cabinet and in May Lord Balfour, who though attending the 
War Council had been in Opposition, became First Civil Lord of the Admiralty. 
Dr. Weizmann had been experimenting very successfully meanwhile in the 
manufacture of explosives. “He brought before Scott,” says Mr. J. L. Hammond 
in his biography of the great editor, “his plan for manufacturing chemicals 
needed for munitions. Scott paid several visits to London to urge on Mr. Lloyd 
George, Mr. McKenna, Lord Balfour and others, the importance of 
Weizmann’s experiments. Mr. Lloyd George promised in the summer to 
consider the question as soon as the issue of conscription had been settled.” 

The probability of Dr. Weizmann (the Dr. is Doctor of Science) being called 
to London, where he would have more regular opportunities of contact with 
members of the Government, was thus postponed a while. But M. Sokolov and 
others were busy in the fostering ante -chambers of the English political world. 
They made converts, and the converts made their converts, and Zionism by 
degrees became a topic amidst the persons and the groups that count in that 
world, and in its social centre. The thesis which Asquith had found extravagant 
as a novel of Disraeli’s became through repetition not so extravagant to other 
statesmen, and then became an idea present in the air, and soon was a possible 
line of conduct. 

In December Scott took Weizmann to breakfast with Lloyd George to 
discuss the former’s experiments, which dealt with the provision of acetone for 
cordite. Subject to the success of some final trials, Dr. Weizmann’s transfer to 
London to work in a Government munitions laboratory was decided. He went 
back awhile to Manchester, just about when McMahon in Egypt was inditing 
the conclusion of the compact of Arab independence for which Kitchener had 
led the way. 

Dr. Weizmann’s trials were altogether successful. In February 1916 he was 
appointed to the Admiralty. Lord Balfour became his chief. To do Dr. 
Weizmann justice he does not seem to have intruded the Zionist side of his life 
into his office. But Lord Balfour took the initiative. One day Weizmann “came 
to his room on official business. As the interview ended Balfour introduced the 
other subject. ‘You know, Dr. Weizmann, if the Allies win the war you may get 

Palestine: The Reality 


your Jerusalem.’ He bade him call again, he wanted to discuss the Russian and 
the English Jews.” (Dugdale.) 

Mrs. Dugdale says that in the course of 1916 Balfour and Weizmann only 
met “once or twice.” Whether with him or with others, though, the spade-work 
of the Zionist leaders continued unabated through the first half of the year. M. 
Sokolov and Dr. Weizmann turned their attention a good deal to spreading the 
doctrine amidst English Jews. The two knew nothing about the Arab alliance 
which had ushered in the year. Besides, what were Arabs in their schemes at 
any time? 

However, for the statesmen who had dealings with the Zionist pleaders the 
new-made alliance should have marked a great difference. To date they had 
been able to toy with the Zionist project with some show of legitimacy, but now 
to consider a Zionist State, which was what they were asked to consider, 
whether it were created immediately or by degrees, upon territory where we 
were engaged to support Arab independence, ceased to be legitimate. In 
diplomatic language what they began to do was undesirable; in plain language 
it was dishonest. 

But a subterfuge can generally be found by those who wish to find one, and 
the method now adopted to evade our obligations was this. The actual character 
of Zionist aspirations was left in a haze, and the Government — for by February 
some portions or persons of the Governmental body were engaged in the 
business — could therefore begin to patronize the movement on the plea that a 
resettlement of Jews in Palestine was a worthy object in itself, and need not be 
envisaged as leading to this or to that particular conclusion. They were rather 
helped in this evasion by the existence of a group of British Jews who were 
interesting themselves by then in the opening opportunities for Zionism. Their 
plans, as far as they were formulated, did not bespeak a Jewish State at any 
time, and were wholly free of political taint. These moderate men were 
consulted and canvassed alongside with Messrs. Weizmann and Sokolov. 
Though their propositions were only read to be dropped, the mere fact that 
parallel communications were made with them gave the requisite air of open- 
mindedness to the tentative negotiations, or whatever they were to be called, in 
which the section of the Government responsible for them was engaged. 

Obviously the straightforward action would have been to inform the 
political Zionist leaders of our engagements to the Arabs, bidding them curb 
their plans in accordance with these engagements. Or if it were impossible to 
acquaint them of the engagements, as most likely in fact it was till the Arab 
revolt should have started, then no steps at all should have been taken to 
encourage the Zionists. 

No one however seems to have been stopped by any such considerations in 
Whitehall. The real question is how far anybody in Whitehall knew what 
everybody else was doing. At that period of the War, Ministries, and even 
individuals in Ministries, seem to have conducted policies without 

communicating them to each other, or without communicating them in any 
adequate degree. The argument used for justifying this seems to have been that 
while negotiations were only feelers they were a departmental business. Time 
enough to tell ministers all about them, and time enough for ministers to tell the 
Cabinet all about them, when the moment arrived for turning them into national 
policy itself. 

No other explanation for what occurred is possible. That all the members of 
the Cabinet, including the Prime Minister, were aware fully how far we were 
engaged to the Arabs is highly improbable. There were plenty of indications in 
the dispatches which had reached Egypt before the conclusion of the Alliance 
that the matter was being treated confusedly and being studied insufficiently at 
home. Captain Liddell Hart, drawing his information from Lawrence, who was 
in the thick of things, says that the High Commissioner himself cabled from 
Cairo to warn the Foreign Office upon “the danger of underrating the possible 
development of the Arab movement.” He urged (how significant, this) “the 
need for unity of control over all negotiations.” 

It made no difference, in any case. The various policies were continued 
recklessly by their authors. The situation in February, so far as it can be 
disentangled, was that we had a genuine treaty with the Arabs, an 
“arrangement” pending with the French, and an “affair” developing with the 
Zionists. Some people knew of some of these and a few may have known of all 
of them, though nobody with much clarity. The French “arrangement” was 
being kept secret from the Arabs and the Zionists, the Arab treaty was being 
kept secret from the Zionists, and the French only had general notions of it, 
which into the bargain a few officials of the Quai d’Orsay seem to have kept to 
themselves. There was no reason of course why a line of anything confidential 
should have been communicated to the Zionists, as they had no standing, but 
since they are involved in the business it is worth noting that the secrecy 
extended to them. 

Needless to say, there must be secrecy in war-time: no one is going to be so 
foolish as to question that. But there is all the difference in the world between 
keeping engagements secret from the enemy and from neutrals, and keeping 
engagements secret from those whose intimate affairs are covered by these very 

In due secrecy Sir Mark Sykes and M. Picot now completed their 
“Arrangement” on behalf of their respective countries. Sykes left for Russia 
before the end of the month, to submit it to the Russian Government, which was 
to be associated as third party to the pact. 

In March, the memorandums and conversations of Sir Herbert Samuel, of 
Messrs. Weizmann and Sokolov and of the other friends of the Zionist cause, 
bore their first fruit. This was a document owing its origin supposedly to Sir 
Edward Grey. For a piece of evidence of its importance it is still not very well 
known. As far as I am aware it has only been quoted in this country by Mr. 

Palestine: The Reality 


Leonard Stein in his Zionism. In the United States Mrs. Andrews, the author of 
a very considerable, much documented, standard work, Palestine under the 
Mandate ,* has published a version which differs somewhat from Mr. Stein’s. 

The document is one sent to our Ambassador in Petrograd, bidding him 
sound the Russian Government upon its attitude towards “Jewish Colonization 
in Palestine.” It would never have seen the light but for the Russian revolution. 
After this had taken place, the new Soviet Government published a number of 
secret dispatches from the files of the Imperial Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and 
the dispatch in question was included in a volume entitled (in Russian) The 
Partition of Asiatic Turkey, which appeared in 1924. 

It is dated the 1 3th of that month of March, and was presented apparently in 
English to M. Sazonoff, then Russian Foreign Minister. The dispatch in the 
Petrograd archives at least is in the English tongue, though it was translated into 
Russian for the work which the Soviet authorities edited. 

For convenience I give Mr. Stein’s version of the text, his convenient book 
in which it is reproduced being more accessible to average readers than Mrs. 
Andrews’s pair of tomes. It runs as follows: 

Aide-Memoire presented by the British Embassy in Petrograd to the 
Foreign Minister, M. Sazonoff. 

A telegram has been received from Sir Edward Grey stating that the 
attention of His Majesty’s Government had recently been drawn to the 
question of Jewish colonization in Palestine, 

Although, as is known, many Jews are indifferent to the idea of 
Zionism, a numerous and most influential section of them in all countries 
would highly appreciate the proposal of an agreement concerning 
Palestine, which would fully satisfy Jewish aspirations. 

If the point of view set forth above is correct, it will be clear that by 
means of utilizing the Zionist idea, important political results might be 
achieved. One of these would be the conversion to the side of the Allies 
of Jewish elements in the East, in the U.S.A., and other places, whose 
present attitude towards the cause of the Allies is, to a considerable 
extent, hostile. 

Mr - . Lucien Wolf has defined Jewish aspirations in Palestine in the 
following manner: “If as a result of the war, Palestine should fall within 
the sphere of French and British interests, the French and British 
Governments will not fail to take into consideration the historic interests 
of Jewry in this country. Both Governments would assure to the Jewish 
population equal political rights with other inhabitants, religious and civil 
freedom, such municipal privileges in colonies and towns as would 
appear necessary, as well as reasonable facilities for colonization and 

1 Produced later in Great Britain by Messrs. George Allen and Unwin. 
Palestine: The Reality 

Sir Edward Grey has no objection to the formula quoted above, but in 
reply he simply informed Mr. Wolf that he must discuss this question 
with the Allied Governments, and that this matter will be sympathetically 
considered by His Majesty’s Government. 

The only object of His Majesty’s Government is to devise some 
agreement which will be sufficiently attractive to the majority of Jews to 
facilitate the conclusion of a transaction securing Jewish support. Having 
this consideration in view, it appears to His Majesty’s Government that if 
the scheme provided for enabling the Jews, when their colonies in 
Palestine are sufficiently strong to be able to compete with the Arab 
population, to take in hand the administration of the internal affairs of 
this region (excluding Jerusalem and the Holy Places), then the 
agreement would be much more attractive for the majority of Jews. His 
Majesty’s Government would not wish to express a preference for this or 
another solution of the question. However, it is informed that an 
international protectorate would meet with opposition on behalf of 
influential Jewish circles. 

Communicating all this telegraphically, Sir Edward Grey instructs Sir 
George Buchanan to solicit from the Russian Government a serious 
consideration of this question and to favour him at the earliest possible 
date with the communication of the Russian point of view. 

What a document! It is scarcely credible that within ten weeks of pledging 
Arab independence “in every sense of the word independence” to the Shereef of 
Mecca, the Foreign Minister was thus preparing coldly to hand over the 
administration of Palestine to the Zionists. The only sort of palliative for it, and 
practically the only explanation of it is to be found in the perilous situation of 
the country then and in the consequent disorder of the Cabinet. One hundred 
and fifty thousand tons of merchant-shipping were being sunk every month by 
enemy submarines; the Turks were triumphant at Gallipoli; the War was 
costing a sum which now approached six million pounds a day, and there 
seemed no issue from it, let alone any sign of a victorious exit. The Cabinet 
itself was distracted, discredited and moribund: the disunion of the whole 
Governmental machine began within the body of men who should have held it 

Lord Curzon, referring a couple of years later to the conduct of the country’s 
business at the period under discussion testified that the old Cabinet system was 
“quite impossible in times of war.” “The meetings of the Cabinet were most 
irregular. There were no agenda, there was no order of business. No record 
whatever was kept of the proceedings, except the private letter written to the 
King by the Prime Minister, the contents of which were never seen by anybody 
else. The Cabinet often had the very haziest notion as to what its decisions 
were. ... It was always congested with business.” There were two dozen 


Cabinet Ministers, a situation which led Mr. Lloyd George to declare, “You 
cannot run a war with a Sanhedrim.” 

No doubt it was out of such peril, such disorder and such absence of 
supervision that the memorandum sent to Petrograd sprang. It slipped through 
in the confusion. Even so, with every allowance for the circumstances which 
attended its appearance, it is inexcusable. The question at once rises to the 
mind: who wrote it; who was responsible for it? Who were aware of its contents 
before it was dispatched to Russia? 

Was Lord Kitchener, who had been the prime mover in approaching the 
Arabs? On that presumption alone, it is hardly likely. Apart from this his 
relations at the time were growing steadily more and more restricted with the 
other members of the Cabinet. He did not give them much of his confidence. 
That close -placed observer, F. S. Oliver, wrote of the Government that it was in 
a kind of dusk with regard to military operations. If it was in a dusk about 
Flanders, in what sort of night will it not have been about operations and 
commitments to the Hedjaz? While, on the other hand, by a natural reaction the 
members of the Cabinet who suffered from Kitchener’s taciturnity did not treat 
him to their own plans. Was the Petrograd memorandum ever communicated to 
him? Was it ever even treated in extenso at any Cabinet meeting or any 
governmental gathering at which he was present? Every presumption is that it 
was not, nor ever treated in extenso at any such meeting at all. 

Had the very Prime Minister seen it? When the Zionist proposals in Sir 
Herbert Samuel’s memorandum were first sent to Mr. Asquith he had spoken of 
them pretty contemptuously, and he never changed his mind about them. In the 
House of Commons, six years after, he was calling them still “a staircase of 
fragile, precarious, stumbling hypotheses,” adding that it was a very large 
hypothesis to assume that “by judicious administration and by pacific 
penetration and in other ways the Jews and the Arabs were going to live side by 

In 1924, on the soil of Palestine itself, as the guest of Sir Herbert Samuel, 
now High Commissioner, when, if ever, he was going to be converted, he wrote 
instead “the talk of making Palestine into a Jewish National Home seems to me 
as fantastic as it always has done.” Was a man of his temper one to induce the 
Russians to take any share in what he found fantastic? Was Asquith the man to 
propose to anybody a policy in which he himself altogether disbelieved? 

No, the only conclusion is that the memorandum had not been submitted to 
him, or that no sufficient version of it had been submitted to him, before it was 
dispatched, and he was not cognizant of what was going on. 

As for our engagements to the Arabs, I do not believe that these had been 
communicated to the Prime Minister sufficiently, if at all. In 1923, on returning 
from Palestine, I went myself to see him, in the House of Commons, upon this 
subject. Carmelite House had just brought out in pamphlet form my Daily Mail 
articles, wherein I had given the crucial portions of the Hussein-McMahon 

treaty. It was the first time they had been disclosed to the public. I visited Mr. 
Asquith, now out of office, specially to beg him to examine them, so that he 
might judge of the strength of the pledges which bound us to support Arab 
independence in Palestine. 

His whole attitude was of one being informed. Indeed the interview between 
us had been mooted by a common friend and accepted by Mr. Asquith on the 
principle of engaging his interest in these newly produced documents. If 
Asquith had known of them, there would have been no meaning in our 
interview. When I said to him, “I want particularly to show you the extracts 
from these papers, sir, I am convinced that they will impress you,” he did not 
say to me that he knew them. He did not say that he had examined them when 
he was in power but had forgotten them, or that he had only seen them 
cursorily. He acted absolutely as though he had had no kind of acquaintance 
with them before. What he said was, “Certainly. Let me see them.” Afterwards 
he said, “Leave this with me. I’ll go through it. I’ll look into it all” I was not 
“interviewing” him in the technical sense. During such interviews statesmen are 
often on the defensive and make show at times of false ignorance. This was a 
personal meeting, of which none but the three people involved ever knew till 
to-day, and in the course of it he was perfectly blunt and unambiguous, though 
he said little, the whole thing having been arranged so that I might appeal to 
him rather than he say anything to me. 

The mystery does not stop with him, however, nor with Lord Kitchener. 
This Petrograd memorandum, violating our engagements to the Arabs, does not 
fit in with the character even of the man in whose name it was dispatched. Was 
Lord Grey another victim of departmental secrecy? Before he set his hand to 
the Petrograd memorandum, had he ever studied thoroughly the text of the 
Anglo-Arab pact? He was under a crushing burden of work at the time, when 
the tendency would have been for him to demand only outlines of all but major 
documents. The decision upon what were major documents would rest with 
permanent officials, especially as regards documents dealing with outlying 
sections of the vast field of foreign affairs in war-time. In the din of the conflict 
on the Western Front the Foreign Secretary perhaps heard only abstractedly 
some general account of an understanding with the Hedjaz. 

It may seem at first sight extravagant to suggest indeed that a Foreign 
Secretary remained unacquainted or was insufficiently acquainted with a matter 
which engaged the full responsibility of the Government. Yet his own words, 
when this question first came up for discussion in the House of Lords towards 
the end of the succeeding month of March, confirm such a suggestion. This 
1923 debate was initiated and led by Lord Islington, the most gallant, 
unceasing, and intelligent fighter for justice to the Arabs since the question first 
arose. He quoted my extracts from the McMahon-Hussein documents and made 
evident how we were committed by them. Lord Grey’s speech was awaited 
with the interest that may be imagined. He had been the responsible Minister at 

Palestine: The Reality 


the time the commitments were made. Whatever he had to say, the House 
expected that his contribution to the debate would be authoritative. 

Yet that was the one quality it lacked. He said that he did not propose to go 
into any detail over the points which had been traversed by Lord Islington and 
by Lord Sydenham (who had spoken on kindred lines to Lord Islington’s). 
Detail was the very point the House expected from him of course, but it was 
soon clear that he could not give it. He spoke in his characteristic, sincere, 
gentlemanly way, but he seemed to have no knowledge. He was roundabout 
and vague about facts. He said that secret engagements were inevitable during a 
war. If all our war-time engagements were considered as a whole there might 
well be what he called “inconsistencies” between them. “1 think it exceedingly 
probable that there are inconsistencies,” he said. He did not think that there 
were any referable to his period of office. But he did not know. He confessed he 
had not “refreshed his memory” upon what secret engagements had been made 
during that period. (It is a very noteworthy fact that having refreshed his 
memory later, he never afterwards sought an occasion to deny our obligations 
in Palestine to the Arabs.) 

He actually, in this Lords speech, asked for information, asked that the 
Government should publish all papers, so that our honour might be cleared. 
Texts were becoming public “through other sources,” he said. He agreed that 
the situation was, as he put it, a difficult one. “An exceedingly difficult one,” he 
said, “when it (the Balfour Declaration) is compared with the pledges which 
undoubtedly were given to the Arabs.” 

In making this admission, Lord Grey spoke as though he were a high- 
minded stranger to whom the pledges were a revelation. Under these 
circumstances how is it possible to assume that he compiled the Petrograd 
memorandum in full knowledge of the Anglo-Arab treaty? Did he compile it 
himself, indeed? 

This lends a greater interest and a greater importance to the analysis of this 
memorandum, the first official step along the path which led to the 
dishonouring of Great Britain’s obligations. 1 ask the reader to reconsider its 
text therefore. 

There is one paragraph in it to which no exception can be taken, Mr. Lucien 
Wolfs excellent formula. There is nothing else in the memorandum which is 
recommendable. Two phrases call for attention particularly. The first is “an 
agreement concerning Palestine which would fully satisfy Jewish aspirations.” 
The second is the awkwardly phrased statement that “if the scheme provided 
for enabling the Jews, when their colonies in Palestine are sufficiently strong to 
be able to compete with the Arab population, to take in hand the administration 
of the internal affairs of this region, then the agreement would be much more 
attractive for the majority of Jews.” The English of this is very cumbersome 
and unreal. The word “for” should be read with “enabling” and “provided” is 

not a past participle but the past tense. It means “If the scheme made it possible 
for the Jews, when their colonies, etc.” 

1 do not believe that this formula, ostensibly phrased by the Foreign 
Secretary, was his work at all. To every appearance it was taken, and inserted as 
it stood, from some unacknowledged text of the political Zionists’ own, and 
was not first written in English. The reference which follows the formula goes 
to show that this was what happened. This runs “His Majesty’s Government 
would not wish to express a preference for this or another solution.” Evidently 
the final compiler or compilers of the dispatch are foreign to the formula itself. 

The same may be said of the earlier formula “an agreement concerning 
Palestine which would satisfy Jewish aspirations.” Of this the compiler or 
compilers observe, “if the above point of view is correct.” He or they are 

In the memorandum too there are subterfuges which one would hardly wish 
to attribute to the Foreign Secretary. The words “a numerous and most 
influential section” of the Jews, which 1 judge to be Whitehall’s own, disappear 
after utterance. In their place, at the close of the dispatch, is palmed the very 
different expression “the majority of Jews.” It is very hard to make nationhood 
claims on behalf of a section of people, however numerous and influential they 
may be. But on behalf of the majority of Jews the claim (for what it is worth) 
can be made without offending mathematics. Hence in the course of the 
dispatch, the delicate replacement of the words “numerous and influential 
section” of the Jews by the words “majority of Jews” is allowed to occur. 

Possibly the worst thing in the memorandum is the way in which it sets 
aside Mr. Lucien Wolfs ideals for Zionist colonization in Palestine in favour of 
the plans of the political Zionists. Mr. Lucien Wolf was an extremely well- 
known and very able publicist of the period, much versed in foreign affairs. He 
was the spokesman of some of the chief institutions in British Jewry such as the 
Anglo-Jewish Association and Board of Delegates of British Jews, whom 
indeed he was to represent four years later at the Peace Conference. Therefore 
the definition of Jewish aspirations in Palestine which he offered to the Foreign 
Office — at its request — was one which commended itself to the representative 
bodies of Jews in this country. It would I believe have commended itself to the 
Arabs of Palestine too, if they had known of it. There are no assumptions of 
ownership in it, no demands for unexampled privileges. Mr. Wolf and the other 
Jews for whom he spoke only asked that their colonists should have “equal 
political rights with other inhabitants,” “religious and civil freedom,” 
“reasonable facilities for colonization.” In fine, the Jewish colonists would 
qualify for and would receive the normal rights of men. 

We know, therefore, through this citation of Mr. Wolfs formula or plan, 
that in the spring of 1916 the British Government had its chance. A programme 
was set before it which had authoritative Jewish backing, which was the 
product of Jewish brains, which would have consorted with the obligations to 

Palestine: The Reality 


the Arabs that it had just undertaken. Such were the merits of the programme 
that it could not be left unmentioned. But to mention it. to say indifferently that 
he “had no objection to it,” and thenceforward to drop it for ever was all the 
Foreign Secretary did, or all the man or men did who were responsible for this 
memorandum sent in the Foreign Secretary’s name. 

The opportunity for following a policy which would have meant no 
“Palestine Question,” no enmity with the Moslems, no jettisoning of the 
Christians, which would have meant an honourable programme for the Jews, 
was not merely missed but was consciously evaded. By now Whitehall was 
entangled with the arbitrary and ruinous schemes of the political Zionists. Some 
words of Mrs. Dugdale in this respect are worth quoting. “In the spring of the 
year 1916 the Zionists” (that is to say the political Zionists, Messrs. Weizmann 
and Sokolov) “began to make a little contact with the great Departments, whose 
goodwill would be at least as necessary as the sympathy of Ministers, when the 
moment really came for them to step into the arena of Allied politics. The 
spokesmen of certain bodies of non-Zionist Jews” (that is to say real “Zionists,” 
who aimed at a spiritual Zion) “were beforehand with them at the Foreign 
Office, throwing all their weight into other plans for helping the Jews in the 
Russian Empire and elsewhere. They pressed upon the Foreign Office a 
formula for a Palestine policy acknowledging nothing more than ‘the historic 
interest’ taken in that country by their ‘community.’ The word ‘race’ was not 

She continues “The Zionists were in ignorance of the existence of this 
formula for some time after it had been submitted to the Foreign Office, and it 
is probable that the anti-Zionists were not fully aware of the interest in Zionism 
taken by some Ministers.” This latter fact is very daintily phrased, but the 
reader will grasp what kind of a situation it was to which it refers. 

What this “interest in Zionism” meant is made clear by the next succeeding 
sentences of the Petrograd memorandum. After declaring that the Foreign 
Secretary had no objection to Mr. Wolfs programme, the memorandum goes 
on to propound the very different programme to which, plainly, support was to 
be extended. Needless to say, this is not stated in so many words. Disclaimers 
accompany the paragraphs in which the Government’s preference is made clear. 
The memorandum is as loud with disclaimers as the charge -room of a police- 
station. But the more the Government disclaims a preference for any particular 
solution, the more it indicates its preference for the special solution which will 
be “attractive for the majority of Jews.” 

It says, in what 1 may term the “betrayal-clause” of the memorandum, that a 
scheme in which the Zionist immigrants shall be enabled to grow sufficient in 
numbers to rival the Arabs and then shall be granted powers of government 
would indeed be “much more attractive for the majority of Jews.” At the same 
time it says blandly that “the only object of His Majesty’s Government is to 
devise some agreement which will be sufficiently attractive for the majority of 

Jews.” If this does not point out, with just a touch of essential periphrastic 
humbug, that the Government desires the said scheme, then no words or 
phrases have any meaning at all. 

Poor Mr. Wolf in his formula ingenuously had taken the inhabitants of 
Palestine into consideration. In the betrayal-clause of the Foreign Office 
memorandum the only reference to them lies in the arrangement for their 
supersession. They are not even to have the solace of an international 
protectorate because that would meet with opposition from “influential Jewish 
circles.” These circles will have been the group of Messrs. Weizmann, Sokolov 
and their friends. Though the Sykes-Picot agreement was not to be signed for 
another six weeks or so, and was not known to this group, the international 
protectorate idea was in the air and clearly had been canvassed with them, as a 
separate proposition. They opposed it from the start, fearing that the influence 
of the Latin and Orthodox Churches, expressed through the representatives of 
the countries professing their beliefs, would doom the plans for Zionist 

A point to be mentioned is that the betrayal-clause varies in the two versions 
of the memorandum which have been published. As 1 have already said there 
are various differences between the version of Mr. Stein and the version of Mrs. 
Andrews. But there is nothing deserving of mention except in the text of this 
clause. Here, where Mr. Stein speaks of a scheme for “enabling the Jews, when 
their colonies in Palestine are sufficiently strong to be able to compete with the 
Arab population, to take in hand the administration of the internal affairs of this 
region,” Mrs. Andrews’s text is “a project which would grant the Jews, when 
the colonists in Palestine have attained a position which will enable them to 
rival the Arabs in strength, the administration of their own internal affairs in 
that country.” 

Mr. Stein’s version assumes Jewish government of internal affairs; a Zionist 
Minister of the Interior. Mrs. Andrews’s version assumes Zionist self- 
government in Zionist areas. In order to resolve this discrepancy I applied to the 
Soviet authorities for a copy of the original text of the memorandum, inquiring 
at the same time was it indeed in English. They were very courteous, affirmed 
that the original was in English, and at first even said they would try and 
procure me a photostat facsimile. Both the Stein and Andrews versions were 
translations back into English from foreign texts. 

There was a certain amount of delay, after which 1 received the text, not in 
English but in the official Russian version. A further appeal was met not by the 
English text but by a request that I should mention any particular passages of 
which I wished to know the original English. This was rather a disappointment, 
but I did as 1 was asked, since examination of the official Russian, itself a 
translation, was not satisfactory. In the reply which I received, the only 
quotation containing the original English of the passages 1 had mentioned 
which called for notice came at the end of the crucial clause. This was to the 

Palestine: The Reality 


effect that Great Britain wished to find some arrangement to enable the Jews, 
when in sufficient strength to compete with the Arabs, “to take in hand the 
management of the internal affairs of that district.” 

Palestine therefore, in the memorandum communicated to M. Sazonoff by 
Sir George Buchanan for Sir Edward Grey, was described as a district and the 
Jews were to have the management of all its internal affairs (as in Mr. Stein’s 
version) when their numbers were sufficiently large to compete with the Arabs. 
Palestine in fact, under this plan, was to be handed over to Zionist rule, without 
thought of its Arab people except of how soon they could be outnumbered, or 
could be reduced to parity. The Arabs’ natural right to their country, and the 
bond into which we had just entered to give them their independence if they 
fought beside us, alike were disregarded. 

That is enough concerning this deplorable document, the first of a series in 
which British policy and the aims of political Zionism were welded together. 
The alliance is reflected in the evidently composite text, passing as the voice of 
the Foreign Secretary alone. 

There is but a single plea of any kind to be made on behalf of the 
memorandum. In one place it has a frankness of its own. At least the reasons 
for favouring political Zionism are stated without hypocrisy. 

Of course, this message was not intended to reach the general public and so 
hypocrisy could no doubt be left out. The Government refers in it to nothing but 
the main chance, and proposes acquiescence in the Zionist schemes as a 
halfpenny-for-you-penny-for-me politico-commercial transaction. Such 
bargains, it is true, are the common stuff of alliances. The alliance with the 
Arabs was a give-and-take affair also. But since nearly all those who have 
imposed the support of the arbitrary type of Zionism upon Great Britain have 
presented it regularly to the nation as radiant with a halo of selfless intentions, 
it is very satisfactory to have the reality disclosed in such business-like terms as 
“utilizing” the Zionist idea and “achieving important political results.” 

The way in which these results were to be realized is very interesting. 
Russia was an unfortunate ally at the time, in the sense that her maltreatment of 
her Jewish subjects had set the minds of Jews against her all over the world. 
Various violences done to them during the early War years, undisclosed in 
Great Britain, but published in the United States, had deepened the antagonism 
of the Jews in that country. This made them lukewarm to the cause of Russia’s 
companions-in-arms. Indeed, as the Petrograd memorandum acknowledges, 
their attitude towards the cause of the Allies to a considerable extent was 
hostile. An espousal of political Zionism by the British Government might 
remedy this Jewish hostility. The Zionist leaders in England then, and later, 
guaranteed that it would. They gave a special guarantee for the United States. 

They knew what they were about. About a fortnight after the Grey 
memorandum was presented to M. Sazonoff, a meeting of Jewish organizations 
from all over the country was held in Philadelphia. Mr. Justice Brandeis, of the 

Supreme Court, a close friend and counsellor of President Wilson, was one of 
those who addressed the gathering. It was resolved to take advantage of the 
conditions caused by the War to secure full rights for Jewish citizens 
everywhere. Any discriminatory laws or regulations under which they suffered 
were to be abrogated. This programme, excellent of course as it stood, 
“received the endorsement and approval of many officials of the Government, 
notably of the Secretary for War.” (Kallen.) 

It was a beginning. Before long the support of Zionist plans for a Jewish 
Palestine was to be grafted to the Philadelphia programme. Now, however, 1 
shall leave the Zionists to these plans and return to the Arabs. The reader must 
not imagine that any chopping and changing in this narrative is done without a 
reason. Nothing is more essential than to underline the contrast between the 
way in which Zionism adopted and was adopted by our politicians, and the way 
in which the Arabs pursued their alliance on the field of battle and the scaffold. 


Preparations for the Arab Revolt. How the Arabs died in Syria — Feisal and 
Djemaal — The Revolt starts — The Sykcs-Picot treaty — The Zionist “October 
Programme” — Political Zionism made “a complex problem” — Political Zionism 
made “a small nation.” 

The Arabs did not break into revolt instantly upon conclusion of the alliance 
with Britain. There were good military reasons for this, especially the need of a 
larger stock of weapons and war material. Cairo itself counselled delay for a 
while. It may be said too that the Arabs had begun to fight for us long before 
one of them took rifle in hands. The Shereef, as we have seen, “had drawn the 
sting of the jehad.’’'' (Liddell Hart.) “He had already,” says Temperley’s 
standard History of the Peace Conference, referring to the period before the 
revolt began, “rendered service incalculably great to the Allies.” This work 
does not use a term such as “incalculably great” unless it means incalculably 
great. Let us keep that estimation in mind. 

When Hussein concluded the alliance the evacuation of Gallipoli had much 
improved the situation of the Turks. Freed of the Gallipoli menace, Djemaal 
Pasha, the commander of the Turkish forces in Syria, no longer needed to 
behave circumspectly towards the Arabs there. He was given presently too a 
further reason for the violent action he now began, through the incredible 
remissness — to say no more — of the staff of the French Consulate -General at 

In the previous chapter it was said that M. Georges Picot, who had 
conducted an inquiry for the French Government in the Near East and then was 
given the task of negotiating the Anglo-French Arrangement with Sir Mark 
Sykes, was not a very happy choice for this work. He had been Consul-General 

Palestine: The Reality 


at Beyrout till the War broke out, and as we have seen the French 
representatives in Syria had become heavily involved with the Arab 
preparations for a rising there against Turkey. The local negotiations had been 
very much concentrated in Beyrout. When Turkey joined the enemy, the 
Consul-General of course had to take his departure. In what followed he does 
not seem to have been personally to blame, but his general responsibility as 
chief of mission was engaged, and certainly it was tactless to choose him 
afterwards as an envoy in the Arab sphere. In the Consulate were many papers 
covering the transactions between the members of the Arab secret societies and 
the French or Allied authorities. A large number were destroyed by the staff of 
the Consulate before evacuation of the premises, but a considerable bundle 
which had been stored in an attic was forgotten. 

The Consulate-General was placed under the care of the United States, but 
Djemaal, who cared nothing for the United States, had the seals on the doors 
broken, and a search made which revealed the forgotten papers. He already had 
got on to the track of the planned insurrection, in the July of 1915, and a 
number of leaders of the Reformist Society, the “ Islahiyeh ,” had been arrested, 
in Baalbek, Damascus, Jaffa and other Syrian towns. Not long after, twenty-six 
arrests were made in the Acre and Tyre districts. A permanent court-martial 
was established at Aley, in the Lebanon, to try these and other Arabs arrested, 
for conspiracy with the enemy and for plotting insurrection. Five of the 
arrested, a former deputy and the Mufti of Sidon amongst them, were 
condemned to death. 

But Djemaal’s tribunal was still without absolute evidence against many 
Arabs who were deeply suspect to him. In the French Consulate he obtained the 
necessary evidence, in the spring of 1916, and after giving the Syrians involved 
some time to commit themselves further, he established upon this justification a 
reign of terror in Syria. Those whose names were found registered in the seized 
documents were brought to trial, as soon as captured, and were hanged in 
public. Nor were they the sole victims. Djemaal, whose nickname was “The 
Butcher,” chose others as he pleased, or allowed his vindictive subordinates to 
choose them, on mere suspicion or upon general principles. 

He began a policy, as near as he could, of destroying the whole population. 
Youths under age were rounded up and thrust into the army. Their fathers were 
sent into banishment, having first surrendered any little holdings of land which 
they held. These lands (or houses) were then sold over their heads by the 
military officials, who pocketed most of the proceeds. The evicted Arab 
householders or husbandmen were told they would receive compensatory 
allotments in Turkey in Asia. This was but a pretext for transporting them to 
Sivas or Angora or some worse spot still, where they were left to their fate. In 
some of the vilayets or provinces of Syria there were scarcely any Arab 
Christians left, for the Christians especially bore the brunt of Djemaal’s fury. 

The population shrank by something like a third. In Damascus and in 
Jerusalem there was terrible misery. Men fell down fainting with starvation in 
the streets of Beyrout. 

The condition of Syria, even amidst the manifold horrors of the War, drew 
attention in all parts of the world. The neutral states tried to persuade the Turks 
to stop the general persecution of the population. They did not meet with much 
success at first, but Constantinople presently grew nervous of the universal 
feeling that was mounting up against its rule. So the Apostolic Delegate in the 
Turkish capital was permitted to organize the distribution of large sums which 
the Pope sent him on behalf of the sufferers. Other bodies followed suit. The 
world’s almoners, the United States, dispatched three warships, the Tennessee, 
the Des Moines and the Chester, to the Egyptian ports, whence they crossed, to 
Jaffa mostly, and thence distributed relief. 

The Jews in Palestine suffered along with the Arabs. A number of their 
colonies, especially those nearer the Egyptian border and the seat of war, were 
ravaged; the stock stolen, the trees cut down. Djemaal (later in the War) issued 
a proclamation against Zionism, for which there was no real cause since very 
few of the Jews then in Palestine professed political Zionism and most had 
come only there as to the sanctuary of their religious faith. He followed this up 
later by an order bidding them to quit the country “on military grounds.” This 
was not enforced in Jerusalem, but altogether some 12,000 Jews were expelled 
in a penniless and miserable state. The United States warships transported them 
to Alexandria. I was in Egypt at the time and remember well the long lines of 
waggons filing through Alexandria, piled with refugees and their poor 
belongings, on their way to camps which had been established for them on the 

A very large number of the Jews in Palestine, being Russian subjects, 
became technical enemies of Turkey. Forty thousand or so acquired Turkish 
citizenship; some eight thousand who refused were imprisoned and expelled. 
Theirs was a preposterous situation: they had been driven from Russia by 
Russia’s own ill-treatment of them. Now they suffered this fresh ill-treatment 
because they were Russians. As may be imagined, they had never taken the 
least interest in the Russian cause, and out of their tens of thousands only a 
handful had in any degree undermined Turkish rule. These latter suffered much 
as did the Arabs. There was the case of the Aaronson family, which had worked 
for Allied Intelligence. This was discovered, and a daughter of the house 
committed suicide to escape familiar forms of Turkish vengeance. 

Several of the chief personages amidst the Jewish bodies then in Palestine 
were tried during 1915 and 1916 on trumped-up charges and after periods of 
detention were forced to leave the country. But the Jewish population had a 
certain safeguard in the presence of Zionist groups in Berlin and 
Constantinople, and in New York and the chief neutral capitals. Through these 
the Jewish colonies could always mobilize influence to prevent the Turks from 

Palestine: The Reality 


practising against them the extreme excesses they used against the Arabs. “In 
this way,” the Zionist official Report on conditions in Palestine during the War 
states, “opportunity was given for help from abroad on every occasion of 
serious political or economic danger. Only through the protection thus afforded 
by the Zionist Organization can the fact be explained that the war period left the 
Yishub (the totality of Jewish colonies) in Palestine practically intact.” 

The German Consul-General in Jerusalem, Herr Brode, the head of the 
German military mission, General Kress von Kressenstein (the brains of the 
attack on the Suez Canal), and the Spanish and United States Consuls also, 
were other protective agencies. “The German officials in general received 
during the War instructions from the (Berlin) Foreign Office and from the 
Embassy and Military Mission in Constantinople to promote Zionist interests. 
These instructions on the whole were punctually obeyed by all officials, no 
matter whether as individuals they sympathized or not with Jewish aspirations.” 

These were the conditions from 1914 to 1916, and into 1917 till the menace 
of the British approach brought a general kicking over the traces by Djemaal 
and others, and the expulsions en masse to Egypt began. 

But the Arabs of course were differently placed. Their adhesion to the 
enemies of the Turks gave another character to their sufferings. The repression 
which they underwent was horrible in method, and upon a scale which even 
from a Turkish point of view was unwise. But in principle most of it was 
logical. They constituted, which the Jewish colonies did not, a present or 
potential peril to the Turks. 

Conversely, what they suffered entitled them to the sympathy and the 
gratitude of the Allied Powers. If it was primarily for their own independence 
that they died on the scaffold or in exile, it was also in the cause of Britain and 
of France, who by every creed of honour were called upon to requite them in 
the hour of victory, let alone to keep the undertakings made to their race. 

I have just said that their repression was horrible in method. Djemaal used to 
give execution-parties, inviting his friends to be present at the hanging of those 
found guilty of desertion, of connivance with the Allies, and of other such acts. 
A number of the victims came from Palestine. Twelve young men were hanged 
together one day in Jerusalem. The Mufti of Gaza, Ahnwd Aref al Husseini, 
and his son were both hanged. They belonged to the same family as does Jemal 
Bey al Husseini, so often an Arab delegate to London, and now proscribed from 
Palestine amidst other leaders of the people. The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, 
now in flight in French Syria, also belongs to it. 

A scion of the other great Arab family of Palestine, the Nashashibi, the 
Orsini to the Husseini Colonnas, also was hanged. So was Selim el Ahmed el 
Abdel Hadi, the uncle of Auni Bey Abdel Hadi, signatory of the Versailles 
Treaty and secretary of King Feisal, recently an internee of Surafend 
concentration-camp and since proscribed from re-entering Palestine. Before 
Selim Abdel Hadi was arrested by the Turks, warning had reached him, but he 

refused to fly, saying “If I go, they will take revenge on my uncle Hafiz 
(Pasha), and I don’t want him to be molested at his age. I shall stay here.” He 
made a careful calculation of anything he owed, and signed a document for 
payments half an hour before he went to the scaffold, saying, “My hand does 
not tremble. Why should it? I die for my country.” 

Others condemned to death by the Turkish courts-martial at various periods 
were Abdul Hamid Zahrani (who escaped); Shefik Bey el Mouayid (M. 
Bompard’s visitor; condemned for his relations with the Allies); Shukri Bey el 
Assali (for correspondence with M. Ottavi); Abdul Gani el Arisi; Seifuddin el 
Habib (for having signed a secret proclamation of Arab independence); 
Mahmoud el Makhmessani; Salih Bey Haidar; Refik Rizk Solloum; Abdul 
Wahib el Inglisi (“the Englishman”; a Crusader’s descendant); F.nmu Hamid; 
Arif el Shebab (for raising revolt amongst desert-tribes); Abdul Kerim el 
Habib; Sheikh Ahmed Tabbarak; Ali Effendi el Armenazi; Hafiz Bey el Said 
(of Jaffa); Mahmoud el Adjern; Nayf Effendi Tello; Mehmed Muslim ben 
Ahbedin; Said Effendi el Kermi; Salim Bey Djezairi (of the “Fatah”); Emin 
Lutfi Bey (for endeavouring to promote rebellion amongst his fellow -officers); 
Abdul Kader el Kharsa; Rushdy Shaman; Mehmed el Shamli; George Haddad 
(of the Christian Lebanon Society); Said Aki; Petro Pauli. These were executed, 
and other names could be added to the list. 

Hakki Bey el Assi, Sheikh Reshid Riza and Fans Nimr (Dr. Nimr, the owner 
of the Mokattam newspaper in Cairo, to which Great Britain owed much during 
many difficult years before and after the War) and fifty -one others were 
condemned to death in their absence, according to Turkish procedure. The 
judgment of the court-martial said of them: 

These persons plotted to remove the Arab territories from Ottoman 
rule and to obtain their military occupation by England, which would 
create then an Arab Caliphate attached to Egypt. They also took an active 
part in all the transactions preparatory for rebellion. They prepared and 
took part in the organization of rebellion. All are at large. 

Three hundred Palestine notables were exiled to Asia Minor and ultimate 

The Emir Feisal had arrived back in Damascus in the midst of this reign of 
terror. He had come ostensibly to resume his role as a Turkish officer, in reality 
to join relations with the secret societies and to coordinate action in Syria with 
the revolt now due in the Hedjaz. But he found all the Arab troops had been 
transferred and that the country was in Djemaal’s grip. He sent messages home 
counselling delay till perhaps something could be arranged in the north to 
combine with his father’s plans. 

He was to have much to endure now, though. Djemaal made a special point 
of inviting him to be present at the executions. These were shockingly 
contrived. An eye witness said of the victims, “They are not exactly hanged, but 

Palestine: The Reality 


suspended from a frame with their toes on a stool.” In their spasms they would 
kick the stool from under them and slowly strangle. Feisal had to look on and to 
feign indifference. Djemaal would glance every now and then at him and make 
jocular remarks about the spectacle. He suspected, though he could not prove, 
that Feisal was involved with the societies to which the men belonged who 
were dying in his presence. 

On one of these gruesome occasions, though 1 do not think Feisal was 
present at this, twelve victims suffered together. The most notable of them was 
a young lawyer — he had been called to the Bar in Paris — a kinsman of the 
Abdel Hadi family, named Mahmoud el Makhmessani. The scaffold had been 
raised in a square of Beyrout, which the Young Turk regime with ironic chance 
had renamed “Liberty Square.” Outside a ring of soldiers a silent crowd stood 
watching. At the last moment the hangman turned to Mekhmessani and 
demanded whether he had any final wishes to express. He asked to be allowed 
to speak to the people, and cried out to them that he was guilty. “1 am guilty,” 
he said, “if there is any guilt in loving liberty and in wishing to set my country 
free. 1 have desired to free it, and far from repenting anything which 1 have 
done to win freedom, 1 am proud to be the first victim for its cause. It is 
intolerable for us Arabs, sprung of one of the most splendid civilizations which 
the world has known, to think of the humiliated condition to which we have 
been brought by the barbarous hordes of Anatolia. We have had enough of the 
base yoke of the Turk.” 

The hangman struck the young Arab in the mouth with such force that he 
bled, but he continued shouting, “We have done with your slavery. You 
assassinate us in vain. The cause we serve will outlive us, and deliverance is 
coming. Down with the Turks! Long live the Arabs! Long live France, the 
Arabs' friend!” He went on shouting and struggling till the executioner had 
overturned the stool and thrown himself with his full weight round his victim’s 
neck. One by one, the remaining eleven met then fate, either calmly or crying 
out and invoking the independence of their race and the names of the Powers 
coming to its aid, as Mekhmessani had done. 

What would these men have thought, immolating themselves for their 
country, and for the kindred cause of the Allies whom they saluted at the last, if 
they had known how in the end their allies were to treat them. It is not a topic 
upon which to dwell. 

Amongst those who died in Feisal’s presence there can scarcely have been 
one who did not know of his connection with the insurrectionary movement to 
which they belonged. But none of them ever betrayed him. At least a third of 
the Syrian population, it is computed, was affiliated to the secret societies, and 
yet there was not a man found amongst them to buy either his own life or 
liberty or the life or liberty of father, son or brother by a denunciation of the 
Emir. Not one man: though scores were hanged barbarously and many 
thousands died of famine and ill-treatment. 

Feisal’s feelings as he watched these ghastly exhibitions can be imagined. 
Yet his demeanour was unshaken. Lawrence records that but once did he break 
down and “burst out that these executions would cost Djemaal all that he was 
trying to avoid. It took the intercession of his Constantinople friends, chief men 
in Turkey, to save him from the price of these rash words.” Djemaal in high 
temper had threatened him with execution or banishment. 

As far as the Turk commander was concerned Feisal from now on became a 
hostage. But Feisal must have played his game with extraordinary skill. He 
retained somehow these Constantinople friendships which saved him, and 
Djemaal himself was not quite sure of his real attitude. He cannot have had any 
illusions of Feisal’s faithfulness to Turkey, but he thought that perhaps it suited 
Hedjaz policy for the moment to maintain the Turkish connection as a matter of 
expediency. And for the moment too, and for the same reasons, it suited 
Turkish policy to keep the Hedjaz connection. It was on this slender support 
that Feisal’s safety rested. 

But he never faltered through all that spring. He continued to keep contact 
with the remnant of the Arab underground organizations, though indeed by now 
the brain of the societies was rather in the Hedjaz than in Syria. Several leaders 
had escaped thither, and in Mecca or from Jeddah they conferred with the 
Shereef. Feisal also continued his treasonable correspondence with his father, 
through “old retainers of the family, men above suspicion, who went up and 
down the Hedjaz railway, carrying letters in sword-hilts, sewn between the 
soles of sandals, or in invisible writing on harmless packages.” (Lawrence.) 

Then in May Hussein boldly telegraphed to Djemaal, “You must drop the 
persecution of the Arabs. You must proclaim a general amnesty in Syria and in 
Mesopotamia.” He dared telegraph in such terms because at the same time he 
had formed another military unit, a camel-corps, to support (supposedly) the 
Turkish army when Egypt was next to be invaded. His telegram had the air of 
being advice from a genuine ally. But the camel-corps got no further than 
Medina. It was intended by him really to be the nucleus of the force he would 
launch against the Turks. In any event, Hussein had always been contemptuous 
of the new rulers of Turkey. He had told Enver to his face that he was “an 
ignorant youth.” 

Feisal from Damascus counselled further patience, and from Egypt similar 
advice came. Arms and munitions were being sent to Hussein by Sir Reginald 
Wingate, the Governor of the Soudan, but it was a somewhat slow business, 
and “Sir Henry McMahon was urging the Shereef to delay his operations until 
it was possible to equip him more fully for his task.” (Official History.) 

Hussein’s mind was made up, though. He summoned Feisal home under the 
pretext of completing the final arrangements for the dispatch of the camel-corps 
and of inspecting it before it took the field. Feisal asked leave of Djemaal for 
the purpose. But the “Butcher” was not quite duped or not quite satisfied. There 
must have been a leer on his broad face when he answered Feisal, “I shall 

Palestine: The Reality 


accompany you myself, and the generalissimo Enver will be with us, and he 
will inspect your corps.” 

Whatever doubts Feisal may have had up till then, he knew now that the 
moment for the revolt had come. It was not that the opportunity was so 
favourable, but that after Enver and Djemaal had seen things with their own 
eyes in the Hedjaz it was certain that they would take such measures that no 
opportunity of any kind would ever occur there. 

The two pashas and Feisal, then, went into the Hedjaz together, and the 
promised inspection took place. One of the most vivid passages in Lawrence’s 
great Seven Pillars of Wisdom describes what ensued. 

“In the end matters passed off well, though the irony of the review was 
terrible.” Enver, Djemaal and Feisal together watched “the troops wheeling and 
turning in the dusty plain outside the city gate, rushing up and down in mimic 
camel-battle, or spurring their horses in the javelin game in the immemorial 
Arab fashion. ‘And are all these volunteers for the Holy War?’ asked Enver at 
last, turning to Feisal. ‘Yes,’ said Feisal. ‘Willing to fight to death against the 
enemies of the faithful?’ ‘Yes,’ said Feisal again; and then the Arab chiefs 
came up to be presented, and Shereef Ali ibn Hussein, of Modhig, drew him 
aside, whispering, ‘My lord, shall we kill them now?’ and Feisal said, ‘No. 
They are our guests.’” 

Rarely has even the East seen such refinement of plot and of counterplot as 
we read here. Every word on the lips of Enver or of Feisal had both its open and 
its secret meaning, and as they spoke each of the two played with the other’s 
uncertainties of mind. 

“The Sheikhs protested further; for they believed that so they could finish 
off the war in two blows. They were determined to force Feisal’s hand; and he 
had to go among them, just out of earshot but in full view, and plead for the 
lives of the Turkish dictators who had murdered his best friends on the scaffold. 
In the end he had to make excuses, take his party back quickly to Medina, 
picket the banqueting-hall with his own slaves, and escort Enver and Djemaal 
back to Damascus to save them from death on the way. He explained this 
laboured courtesy by the plea that it was the Arab manner to devote everything 
to guests; but Enver and Djemaal, being deeply suspicious of what they had 
seen, imposed a strict blockade of the Hedjaz and ordered large Turkish 
reinforcements thither.” 

The tenseness of this scene is so great you would think Feisal’s spirit must 
have grown brittle and have broken. But all the way to Damascus he continued 
smiling and courteous to the friends he hated, to the enemies he cherished, gave 
all his mind to the protection of the rulers whose rule he gave all his mind to 
destroy, till the city at last came in sight. Now he in his turn seemed trapped. 
But his father played his part well. Hussein demanded Feisal’s return. He must 
have him, he wrote, to control tribes which seemed not so certain in their 
allegiance, which were restless and were assembling in an ominous way. 

Djemaal reluctantly let Feisal go. More plot and counter-plot: he counted on 
Feisal’s restraining the tribes for prudence’ sake, on his biding for a little longer 
a time which Djemaal for his part would take care should never arrive at all. 
Feisal set forth therefore homeward, but on a pretext all his suite were kept 
behind by Djemaal in Damascus. They were to be hostages. 

Feisal reached Mecca on the 1st of June. “Four days later his suite took 
horse and rode out east from Damascus into the desert to a Bedouin chief.” 
Theirs was a pre-arranged and timed flight. That 5th of June, Feisal displayed 
the Arab flag, and one more nation joined the Allies. “The German hope of the 
co-operation of Islam in the world-plans of the Kaiser passed into the realm of 
dreams,” says Lawrence. 

In Egypt those who were dealing with the Arabs were taken by surprise. 
Half because of the counsels of patience sent from there and half because of the 
delays which Feisal’s strange situation entailed, such speedy action had not 
been foreseen. The Arab Bureau in Cairo was electrified by a sudden message 
from a sloop patrolling in the Red Sea. The warship passed on the message in 
the Shereef s own form that “his hour was at hand.” He asked for some British 
representatives to be sent at once to meet his son the Emir Abdullah. The 
rendezvous he gave was “a desert shore south of Jeddah.” It is a spot known as 
Sheikh Memijeh Bay. Commander Hogarth, who recounts this, was one of 
those who hastened thither in a cruiser. Instead of Abdullah they found his 
young brother Zeid, who told them that Abdullah could not be present because 
he had gone out already to raise the tribes, whom he had been preparing for 
months. He was responsible for the restlessness and for the “ominous gathering 
of the tribes,” because of which Hussein had demanded the return of Feisal. 
The Shereef had imagined a fine piece of satire, and had played it with dry 
gusto upon Djemaal. Ali, the eldest of his Sons, and Feisal himself already were 
converging on Medina. The rebellion had begun three days before. The Shereef 
came out on to the balcony of his residence with a rifle in his hand and fired the 
inaugural shot himself. 

It began therefore haphazardly in some degree. But it was in the nick of 
time. Feisal, before leaving for home, had seen the preparations in 
Constantinople for the dispatch of the Turkish reinforcements. These were 
3,500 strong, under Khairi Bey, and were stiffened by the presence of German 
troops and specialists of various kinds. After detraining at Medina, where the 
staff and headquarters organization of an army-corps awaited them, they were 
to march on Mecca and to suppress all Arab power. This Feisal learned through 
agents of the secret societies in the Turkish army. 

Amongst the Germans there were political agents. The capture of the Hedjaz 
was but to be the preliminary for a great war-campaign of propaganda and 
bribery and of backdoors penetration of the British territories which gathered 
about the Persian Gulf and were the gate to India. The chief of the German 
politicals was a Major von Stotzingen, an able man who has gained an unkind 

Palestine: The Reality 


niche in history because of a letter of introduction which he bore. This was 
from a member of an influential German family, Countess von Schlieffen, and 
the salient passage in it ran, “He does not obtrude his personality and has not 
those characteristics which often make Germans disliked in foreign parts.” 

As Captain Liddell Hart (on whose account of these events 1 draw 
gratefully) points out, if this Turco-German force had overrun the Hedjaz and 
penetrated south the reinforcements it brought might have meant quite easily 
the fall of Aden, where the garrison was small. Our local forces there had been 
driven into Aden proper out of the hinterland and were besieged by a Turkish 
division. An Indian contingent raised the siege next month, but we remained on 
the defensive at Aden thenceforth. If the place had been taken before the 
Indians arrived we should have had an expedition for its reconquest to add 
another to all our anxieties of the time. Meanwhile from Arabia von 
Stotzingen’s propaganda, moving like an army, would have outflanked us in 
Egypt. The interception of this danger, says Liddell Hart, “was not the least of 
the services to Britain achieved by the Arab revolt.” 

The 5th of June in 1916 is a date therefore to be remembered as one on 
which a great blow was struck for the cause of Great Britain and her allies. The 
Arabs, too, struck it themselves and began on that day to carry out their part of 
the engagements into which they and Britain had entered. They began in a 
generous, daring way; they began indeed rashly, if equipment for war alone 
were concerned. Feisal and his brothers had about 50,000 men at their 
disposition, but between every five warriors there was but one rifle and an old 
rifle at that. They had no artillery, no machine-guns. 

The Turks had fewer men than the Arabs in the Hedjaz, 15,000, but they 
were disciplined and pretty well-found. They were supported by artillery, both 
field-guns and howitzers, and by a proportionate supply of machine-guns. 

Fortunately the Turks were divided into several garrisons, and the surprise 
attack of the Shereef s sons took them off their guard. They were driven from 
Mecca city within a week. Our warships and our naval airmen came swiftly to 
the help of the Arabs and by bombardment from the sea and bombing from the 
air took a large part in the fall of Jeddah on the 16th. The Turkish garrison of 
1,400 men surrendered. Rabegh, and Yenbo, which is the port of Medina, were 
taken within the month. Sir Reginald Wingate shipped two mountain-batteries 
and half a dozen machine-guns at once to the Shereef s aid. Egyptian troops 
under Moslem officers manned these batteries, and they brought three thousand 
rifles of one kind or another and much ammunition with them. 

In England, though the rising was acclaimed in the Press, no intimation was 
given that it was the result of an alliance. It was recorded that naval units had 
fired on the Turkish garrisons at Jeddah and other coastal places, but this much 
could be credited to normal hostilities with Turkey. The food-ship facilities we 
gave to the Holy Cities of Islam were noted as a token of friendship merely. 

The Times published the news of the rising seventeen days after it began, 
and devoted its first leader to it. It recognized that now “the Arab national 
movement had come to a head,” wrote appreciatively of the Grand Shereef and 
of his sons. After ten days or so, details grew sparse. At the time of course 
communications with the Hedjaz were difficult, and censorship was easy. 

Even when the fame of Lawrence had grown and had spread the fame of the 
Arab revolt far and wide, officialdom kept its details strangely secret. The War 
was more than a year over before the dispatches concerning the Hedjaz 
operations were issued. Lawrence’s personal exploits too were to give an 
atmosphere of derring-do to the Arab war, which has obscured what may be 
called the legal facts of it, especially the humdrum debit and credit between 
Britain and the Arabs. 

That is why I have detailed at some length how the revolt began, and later 
shall detail how it ended. It must be emphasized that from 1916 to 1918 this 
revolt was not at all a piece of wild music, a sort of military Ride of the 
Valkyries, heard “off’ the stage of the War. On the contrary, it was a definitely 
contracted part of the operations, developed in a clear-cut way, and crowned 
with success in every fashion, except in proper full payment for it by those who 
had contracted for it. Where payment was evaded by the dominant partners was 
in Syria. In 1936, by the Franco-Syrian treaty of the 9th September, the French 
at last acknowledged their debt and when the treaty is ratified will have settled 
with their Arab creditors in their section of that country. We have settled too in 
Irak, but we continue to default in Palestine. 

While Feisal was slipping from Damascus to dare all in the field, we had 
made, so to speak, first preparations for that default in England. The 
negotiations between Sir Mark Sykes and M. Picot had ended, and the 
arrangement which they drew up was ratified by their respective Governments, 
in May 1916. Having the value of an international agreement, it has generally 
been termed the “Sykes-Picot Treaty.” 

It was a neat plan with great stretches of Asia docketed with letters of the 
alphabet and tinted with several colours, and all the still unconquered Turkish 
territory parcelled off into five zones. France and Great Britain had each a zone 
of administration and also a zone of influence, and there was to be an 
international zone, corresponding roughly to Palestine. An independent Arab 
state in Syria was, whimsically, to be composed of the British zone of influence 
and the French zone of influence. That is to say, that over a triangular section of 
territory lying between the zones where Britain and France were to administer 
directly, there was to be established a native state under an Arab ruler with 
Damascus as its chief city. But the northern part of it was to be under French 
influence. Only the French were to supply advisers or foreign officials, and they 
were to have a priority right upon enterprises and loans. The south was to be 
under British influence and the character of influence was to be similar. 

Palestine: The Reality 


It is difficult to imagine anything more unworkable than this “Arab” State, 
of which the fantastic design might have come to its authors at the end of a 
dinner, from some dish of Neapolitan ice-cream, wherein vanilla and 
strawberry zones-of-influence were established over independent sweetmeat. 

Quite in this order of ideas the fifth zone was coloured chocolate. This was 
the international zone of Palestine where “was to be established an international 
administration whose form shall be decided after consultation with Russia, and 
subsequently in accord with the other Allies and the representatives of the 
Shereef of Mecca.” The two administrative zones gave Cilicia, much of central 
Anatolia and coastal north Syria to France, while Great Britain was dowered 
with Mesopotamia and the ports of Haifa and Acre in Syria. 

This Sykes-Picot Treaty, later to be modified and remodified and to form the 
basis of the abortive Treaty of Sevres, was of course altogether incompatible 
with our previous pledges to the Arabs. 

The new treat made a mockery of the Syrian Arab State, and Palestine was 
to be withdrawn from its territories. It took away from the Shereef what had 
been granted to him, and did so secretly, with no reference to him, at the very 
moment when his sons and his tribesmen were beginning battle to honour his 
word. On the face of it, therefore, the Sykes-Picot treaty is not a parchment 
with a place of pride amongst the national charters of England. 

At the same time, if it was inequitable in general concept, it did possess 
some saving points and was not entirely disingenuous and false in the style of 
the subsequent Balfour Declaration. It won from the French acceptance of the 
principle of Arab independence. Hitherto France had jibbed at this, however 
qualified by French or British tutelage in its early stages. Now France gave her 
support to the principle, and after some half-hearted dealings, did contribute her 
part to the success of the Arab revolt, through the aid in particular of the gallant 
Captain Pisani and his guns. The terms of French support were contained in an 
instrument signed, also in May, by Sir Edward Grey and M. Cambon, the 
French Ambassador in Fondon, by which it was declared that their respective 
Governments were “ disposed to recognize and protect an independent State or a 
Confederation of Arab States under the suzerainty of an Arab chief.” The italics 
are mine. Four months before we had already recognized Arab independence 
over the whole area of Arab habitation. 

In the Sykes-Picot document itself this was ignored. That is to say, Article 2 
of this Treaty alluded to negotiations with the Arabs as having to be continued, 
at a time when they were at an end. Whether this strange statement was 
considered as justified by the Shereef s proviso that he would leave the French 
claims over to be settled after the War does not appear. But as far as Britain was 
concerned the Arab negotiations were ended, and the recognition of “an 
independent State or a Confederation of Arab States” had been conceded 
definitely by her. 

However, there was another saving point in the Sykes-Picot Treaty which 
seemed to show that despite the talk of continued negotiation, someone who 
had had a hand in the Treaty recognized the true situation between Mecca and 
Great Britain. The point is one which has received no attention, but deserves a 
good deal. The treaty contained the provision for consulting the representatives 
of the Grand Shereef when the mode of erecting an international administration 
in Palestine should be determined finally. 

It may be that this provision found its way into the treaty to satisfy the 
known good will of Sir Mark Sykes towards the Arabs. It was not his fault that 
the treaty curtailed their independence. 

Such latitude as he had was in the direction of compromise with the French 
claims only, under which he agreed to include Mosul in one of their zones. This 
is a sure indication that, if he had full cognizance of the Hussein-McMahon 
Treaty, he had been instructed to overlook it, since in it the Mesopotamian area 
was reserved for British influence and it was not possible to replace this by 
French influence without obtaining — if Britain were to be faithful to her 
word — the consent of the Shereef, the other party to the transaction. 

Whether he knew the terms of the Anglo-Arab Treaty or was ordered to 
overlook them, it was an unhappy role for poor Sykes. His only reward was to 
be abused later by Mr. Floyd George, who, during the Peace Conference, 
ejaculated that “Mark Sykes was responsible for the agreement which is 
causing us all the trouble with the French. He negotiated it for us with Picot, the 
Frenchman, who got the better of him.” (Riddell.) In fact Sykes had been 
instructed to go a long way to satisfy the French. As far as he was concerned 
his Treaty was not much more than a jig-saw he put together, of which the 
British pieces had been sent to him in the red-leather dispatch-boxes of 
Downing Street. 

So while the clause for consulting the Shereef (or Sheikh, as the text had it) 
of Mecca may have been due to him, it is more likely that it was the work or 
drawn up under the orders of someone in Whitehall who had a conscience. 
Some person, perhaps more than one person, was disturbed by the violation of 
the covenant which guaranteed the Arabs, not an international, but a national 
regime in Palestine. To make up for such a violation, it was little enough that 
could be done. But it was something to obtain the inclusion of the Shereef s 
representatives amongst those who were to draw up the conditions of 
international rule. It was done in the hope, maybe, that when the time came for 
discussions the Arab representatives might be in a position to enter a caveat to 
the whole proceedings. 

Apart from the prickings of conscience there was nothing to cause the 
inclusion of the Shereef s name in the document. Till the pact with McMahon 
had been made by him he had been but the guardian of the Moslem Holy Places 
in Arabia and the potentate of the Hedjaz. His situation as the spokesman of the 
Arab race, in Palestine or elsewhere, had only come to him through the 

Palestine: The Reality 


negotiation of that pact. Whoever therefore, in what are called Government 
circles, extended to him this situation in the prospective negotiations upon 
Palestine under the Sykes-Picot Treaty was well acquainted with the Anglo- 
Arab Treaty, and understood the obligations to the Arabs which we had 
contracted in it. 

There is no clue in this intricate and hidden situation to the identity of the 
man or men with a conscience who, even if the clause were Sykes’s own, must 
have given that clause approval when the terms were submitted. To whom it 
was submitted must again be a mystery. Nominally it would have been 
submitted to the “Government,” but which persons in which group of that 
strangely functioning body saw the Treaty through the Lord knows. The most 
likely honourably-minded individual in a position to insert the clause or to 
secure its retention was perhaps Sir Arthur Nicolson, the Under-Secretary at the 
Foreign Office, who previously had been the man to warn M. Picot of the 
existence of an Anglo- Arab pact. But that is surmise. 

One thing which is evident is that the inclusion of Hussein’s name in the 
Sykes-Picot Treaty puts the Petrograd memorandum of eight weeks before into 
an unenviable posture. In this memorandum the Arabs, so to speak, were only 
entered for purposes of erasure. The divergence between the two documents 
also serves only too well to show the incoherency of the policies of the period. 
Sir Mark Sykes actually was in Petrograd, by Sir Edward Grey’s orders, to 
obtain Russian agreement to the internationalization of Palestine, upon the very 
same day, the 13th of March, upon which the Russians were handed the 
memorandum from Sir Edward Grey deprecating the internationalization of 
Palestine! What real part can Grey have had in these doings? 

Whatever deserves to be said of them, we can observe to advantage the 
fashion in which the early foundations of Zionism were laid in 1916. Amidst all 
the incoherency and worse, one thing also can be isolated and be tacked down, 
the implicit acknowledgment in the Sykes-Picot terms of our existing 
obligations to the Arabs. Before many months passed a new Government 
reigned in London, and this lapse into integrity was corrected. But fortunately 
for the truth, it still stands to witness. 

During the summer of 1916 there was a halt in the activities in Britain of the 
Zionist representatives. The start of the Arab revolt may have counteracted 
these activities for a space. But more likely they were banished from the field 
by great events: the battle of Jutland; the Somme attacks; the entry into the War 
of Roumania. Lamentable events banished them too: Kitchener was drowned 
off the Orkneys on the 5th of June. With him, alas! departed from ruling circles 
any realization of the Arabs as a human entity. 

Mr. Lloyd George succeeded him as Secretary for War, and while the 
country and the campaign benefited by the new Secretary’s zeal and his 
driving-power, yet to his unselective ear the whispers of Zionism presently 
came with the force of oracles. 

After a gallant start, the Arab revolt suffered a first set-back. The 
impetuosity of the Arabs and the surprise of the first days were countered by 
the equipment which the Turks now brought into play. The Arabs had no 
artillery save the Egyptian guns, and these were ineffective because they were 
outranged by the Turkish pieces. Without better artillery support the Turks in 
Medina were too tough a problem to tackle. An attempt to rush the place had 
failed, though Feisal and Ali had ridden about amidst bursting shells to 
accustom their men to these (to them) terrible novelties. The Turks massacred 
the Arabs in the Awali suburb. “Hundreds of the inhabitants were raped and 
butchered, the houses fired, and living and dead alike thrown back into the 
flames.” (Lawrence.) 

We landed sailors at Rabegh, where Aziz el Masri set about training Syrian 
and Mesopotamian volunteers into regular troops. By the autumn he had two 
thousand in khaki, who were drafted to the force acting under the Emir Ali. 
Aeroplanes were sent to Rabegh, four good ones to balance “twenty-three guns, 
mostly obsolete, and of fourteen patterns.” Lawrence, some time about the end 
of October, was detailed to the Arab Army. Feisal then was harrying Turkish 
communications. Abdullah “with three machine-guns” was “blockading” 

After the news of the revolt reached Constantinople, the Turks had 
proclaimed the deposition of the Shereef Hussein, and had appointed one Ali 
Haidar in his place. Ali Haidar had been brought by them to Medina, where 
they were gathering an important force, which was to march on Mecca and to 
overthrow Hussein. As its probable route must lie through Rabegh, the Anglo- 
Arab parry to this move was to strengthen Rabegh, which was done with naval 
and air-force co-operation. But in Egypt, where military responsibilities and 
policies were bewilderingly divided, the Arab war had not too many friends. 
“Staff officers,” says Lawrence, “prophesied its near failure and the stretching 
of Shereef Hussein’s neck on a Turkish scaffold.” 

Meanwhile, far from desert warfare and from the perils of the scaffold, 
another cause was making its progress. Bella gerant alii 1 . . . Zionism wedded 
itself civilly first to this country and then to that. In the United States it was 
organizing itself with marked success, which meant a great deal, since of all the 
Jews in the world at least three million were in the United States. These were 
concentrated too in the large cities where their influence had greatest play. On 
the 2nd of October most of the chief Jewish organizations issued a joint 
manifesto in which the Philadelphia resolutions had swelled to some purpose. 
This manifesto demanded for the Jews full rights wherever they lived in the 
world, as well of course as the abrogation of all extant laws or regulations 

1 [“Let others wage war,” ... tu felix Austria, nube! — “you, lucky Austria, shall 

Palestine: The Reality 


prejudicial to them. “It being understood,” explained the manifesto, “that the 
phrase ‘full rights’ is deemed to include 

(1) Civil, religious and political rights; 

(2) The securing and protection of Jewish rights to Palestine.” 

The second item needed all the ‘deeming’ and the ‘understanding’ which its 
authors could give to it, but they did not delay to argue their case. In or out of 
the United States they proclaimed it vociferously, and that on the whole was 
enough. But in England well co-ordinated action was taken by them. 

Matters had reached such a stage [as an official Zionist Organization 
report was to explain later] that in October 1916 the Zionist Organization 
felt justified in putting forward a formal statement of its views as to the 
future government of Palestine in the event of its coming under the 
control of England and of France. 

This was a big advance, co-related of course with the development in the 
United States. So far the Zionist Organization’s views, even though 
incorporated in Foreign Office memoranda, had been laid unofficially before 
the British Government. Now these views were to be presented as a formal 
statement, officially, as though the Zionist Organization possessed an 
internationally established status which might be affected by the advance of 
England and of France into the Syrian territories. Whence this status was 
gained remains undiscoverable. But the document which presupposed it was 
adroitly presented by the Zionist leaders and was adroitly accepted by the 
British Government and thereby the said status, though it did not exist, was 

The document was rather a long one, divisible roughly under six heads. One 
clause demanded that a Jewish Chartered Company should be established of 
which the purpose would be the resettlement of Palestine by Jewish settlers. 
This Chartered Company project was not a new one: the Sultan Abdul Hamid 
had been asked to consider something similar. It had British precedents of the 
most attractive character, and without doubt the Chartered Company was 
expected to dissolve in short course into a Government, more easily even than 
such Companies had dissolved into Governments in India and in South Africa. 
Meanwhile, it was to have power 

to exercise the right of pre-emption of Crown and other lands and to 
acquire for its own use all or any concessions which may at any time be 
granted by the suzerain Government or Governments. 

Reading this, one is led to ask, “Why have a suzerain Government at all?” 
The Jewish Chartered Company of Palestine was to have at its disposal any 
land anywhere at any time in that country. Any concessions which anyone else 
might obtain or might have obtained were to be taken away from him and were 
to be bestowed on the Chartered Company. Nothing was left for the “suzerain” 
to do but the clerical work of surrendering everything and of expropriating 
Palestine: The Reality 

everybody. (In fact, though it may not seem credible, the general scheme of this 
clause actually was enforced within about five years, in favour of the notorious 
Rutenberg concessions.) 

Another clause ran: 

Inasmuch as the Jewish population in Palestine forms a community 
with a distinct nationality and religion, it shall be officially recognized by 
the suzerain Government or Governments as a separate national unit or 

Upon which clause it might well be observed that inasmuch as the Jewish 
population in Palestine then did not form a distinct nationality but was divided 
amongst all the nationalities of eastern Europe and some of western Europe and 
some of Asia; that inasmuch as at least three-quarters of that population had no 
sympathy with political Zionism and continued to repudiate it after it had come 
to Palestine; inasmuch as the identification of the Jews as a religious body or 
the adherents of a creed was then and still is rejected by the political Zionists; 
therefore there does not appear to be cause for official recognition here of 
anything but of three separate units of fallacy. 

The most significant clause of all, though, was that in which the Arabs came 
in for mention. Astonishingly they did come in for mention in a Zionist 
document of that date. But in what manner? 

The present population, being too small, too poor, and too little 
trained to make rapid progress, requires the introduction of a new and 
progressive element in the population, desirous of devoting all its 
energies and capital the work of colonization on modern lines. 

The Arabs, the “present population” of the above paragraph, at the time 
numbered some 675,000, and Palestine is of merely county dimensions. These 
however were not facts to detain the Zionist Organization. It dismissed the 
Arabs without further consideration, after what seemed without doubt the 
conclusive remark that their population was “small and poor.” To be small and 
poor is the supreme crime in a category of thought which, curiously, is itself 
small and poor. 

Therefore these Arabs, exiguous in their hundreds of thousands, required 
“the introduction of a new and progressive element.” Sentences of such 
surpassing effrontery as this one are rare, and it would be hard to find anything 
matching in insolence the whole clause. What right had the Zionist 
Organization to talk of what the Arabs needed? None whatsoever. 

Still, whether the clause or the whole programme of which it was a part 
were insolent or not, the programme of the Chartered Company was accepted as 
a foundation-stone by the British Government. “The Government,” says the 
Zionist Report, “seems to have regarded the Zionist claims embodied in the 
programme as forming a basis for discussion.” Negotiations thenceforth went 


on steadily. Talks with individual statesmen “gave place to discussions of a 
more formal character. Zionism won recognition as one of the complex 
problems connected with the Middle East on the one hand and the question of 
small nationalities on the other.” (Zionist Official Report.) 

There it is. A better example could not be supplied of the sophistries by 
which the hapless Arabs were to be supplanted. Zionism, political Zionism, not 
alone was confirmed in the status it had acquired out of the skies, but now was 
advanced a stage beyond. Political Zionism became one of the “complex 
problems connected with the Middle East.” All in a flash it was enrolled amidst 
the problems which by and by the Allies must face. 

The role thus assumed by political Zionism was one unwarranted by any 
law, any deed, any political conditions which were then in existence, or 
previously had been for over a thousand years. Zionism as a political entity had 
owned no situation outside the brains of its own recent devisers. Political 
Zionism was not something engrained in the soil of the Near East, nor had it 
any place amidst the problems which the Ottoman Empire handed on so 
profusely to its successors. 

The Ottoman Empire had been approached and had refused to introduce this 
amidst its many complicated factors. It would not have a Jewish enclave. No 
statesman in the world had toiled for years over Zionism, no statesman in the 
world had inherited dossiers in hundreds filled with the negotiations of his 
predecessors-in-office concerning it. It simply was not a problem at all. There 
was a Jewish problem in Eastern Europe; there was none in Palestine. It was 
intended now to introduce the problem where it had never existed, but that was 
to create a problem — something vastly different. In fact, to say that political 
Zionism was a complex problem connected with the Middle East was a 
thumping lie. Its true situation in the realm of politics was that of a theory just 
beginning to be exploited in London and Paris and New York. 

The complexity attributed to it was wholly unreal. What was called 
complexity only meant the difficulty of finding a formula opaque enough to 
disguise the immediate or future annexation of Palestine. 

But sophistry did not confine itself to slipping political Zionism in this way 
in among the problems of the Middle East. With the same stroke Zionism also 
won “recognition as a problem connected with the question of small 
nationalities.” Indeed it did. The operative word, as Mr. J. B. Morton says, is 
“connected.” By more adroitness that which had been nothing, but had been 
transmogrified into a problem, was now again transmogrified from a problem 
into a small nation, by coupling it to various lesser lands. 

The scheme for this can be visualized. In 1916 the small nations were 
already forming up to put their pleas to the (it was hoped) conquering Allies. 
Together they made a political caravan, a train if you like. When the moment 
came they would all set off together, the train would depart for the terminus 
where the victorious Peace was being prepared. The political Zionists were 

ready for this. Rapidly and unostentatiously a van labelled “Zionist Problem” 
would be connected to the last carriage. The train would puff away. Somewhere 
en route the label would disappear, and a van inscribed “Jewish National 
Home” would draw eventually alongside the arrival platform, behind 
Czechoslovakia, Lithuania, Latvia and all the others. The whole scheme is very 
simple. But the chance of watching the manoeuvre is not often given. 

So much for this October programme. While the remaining two months of 
1916 were consecrated in England to the “formal discussions” sprung of it, 
discussions of another kind were being held by Lawrence in the Hedjaz, with 
the Emir Feisal, with Maulud el Mukhlus, the first ex-Turkish regular of the 
Arabs to volunteer for the revolt, and with other leaders. They sat together at 
Hamra and talked of Djemaal’s executions in Syria. Some of the young 
Mesopotamian “Fatah” stalwarts took Lawrence up sharply. Djemaal was 
within his rights, they argued, as the men he had hanged had been caught in 
correspondence with the Allies. These men had been ready to accept French or 
British suzerainty, too, and that was a crime against Arab nationality. 

“Feisal smiled, almost winked, at me. ‘You see,’ he explained, ‘we are now 
of necessity tied to the British. We are delighted to be their friends, grateful for 
their help, expectant of our future profit. But we are not British subjects. We 
should be more at ease if they were not such disproportionate allies.’ 

“Someone added of the sailors coming ashore each day from the warships at 
Rabegh, ‘Soon they will stay nights, and then they will live here always, and 
take the country.’ Feisal mused a little and said, T am not a Hedjazi by 
upbringing; and yet, by God, 1 am jealous for it. And though I know the British 
do not want it, yet what can I say, when they took the Soudan, also not wanting 
it? They hunger for desolate lands, to build them up; and so, perhaps, one day 
Arabia will seem to them precious.’ ” (Lawrence). 

Can we blame Feisal now for these doubtful musings, even though we gave 
him Irak in the end? It was on the very first night Lawrence spent with the Arab 
Army that Feisal gave vent to them. Lawrence wandered about amongst the 
tribesmen “corrugated with bandoliers” next morning, and for some days more, 
then went back to Egypt, and reported against sending a British expedition to 
Rabegh. This pleased Military Headquarters and pleased the General Staff in 
London, which was averse to launching any sort of new expeditionary force, 
even if it only were composed of three or four brigades. By an odd stroke, this 
new military popularity of Lawrence’s led the Staff in Egypt to be more lavish 
with stores and arms for his Arabs than normally he would ever have dared to 
expect. A few capable officers were dispatched too in order to stiffen the revolt. 
With their help the Arabs fought on. But in December they met with a reverse 
below Medina, which the enemy fortunately did not exploit. 

There had been a reverse of another kind some six weeks or so previously. 
The Shereef had been proclaimed by the Mecca ulemas “King of the Arab 
Nation.” This was injudicious ere he had come to a settlement with the Emir 

Palestine: The Reality 


Ibn Saud, who even then was very powerful in his interior sector of Arabia, and 
with the minor chiefs who had niches of power here and there on the coasts. 
Hussein had promised also in the correspondence with the High Commissioner 
to respect existing British agreements with these chiefs. But more than anything 
else the title was altogether too much of a disclosure of the concealed Anglo- 
Arab Treaty not to horrify London. So by a mixture of argumentation and of 
pressure Hussein was brought to acquiesce — till the situation was clearer, it was 
put to him — in the less clamant title of “King of the Hedjaz.” 

This was an ominous sign, possibly, had it been realized, for the future 
honouring of the Anglo-Arab Treaty. Other events, more than ominous, but 
hidden from the Arabs, occurred. Sir Mark Sykes, reappearing in Cairo and 
calling on the High Commissioner, “remarked to him in conversation, 
producing a map, ‘What do you think of my treaty?’ ” (Liddell Hart.) It was the 
first word Sir Henry McMahon had ever heard of the conclusion of the Sykes - 
Picot Treaty! He did not remain in Egypt long after he had received this shock. 
“The workings against Sir Henry McMahon,” says Lawrence, “came to a head, 
were successful, and ended in his recall to England.” 

In early December Mr. Lloyd George had replaced Mr. Asquith as Prime 
Minister. Sir Henry McMahon’s successor took over office at the beginning of 
the ensuing January. 1917 had come, a year which was to witness a great 
victory for political Zionism, but a great defeat for political honesty. 


Political Zionism’s first “official” steps in London — Brandeis and Balfour — 
Lawrence and British pledges — Jewry versus Zionism — First arrangements for 
the Mandate — Jewish opposition in the U.S. to Zionism — France’s recognition. 

The Zionist Executive has recapitulated as follows the course of Zionism in 
Britain between 1914 and the critical year of 1917: “During the first months of 
the War the foundations were laid of a close understanding with the statesmen 
who guided the destinies of Great Britain. The time was not yet ripe for any 
formal assurance of support from the British Government. But an atmosphere 
was created in which, given favourable political conditions, it was possible to 
hope that such an assurance might be obtained. The friendly atmosphere was 
intensified during the following two years, and when Mr. Lloyd George became 
Prime Minister and Mr. Balfour Foreign Secretary, the seeds sown in 1914 
were able to bear fruit.” 

This intensification of friendly atmosphere is a bland phrase for the 
collusive fog in which during 1916 members of the Government lost all track of 
each other’s actions, and dim figures handed programmes out of the gloom to 
unseen recipients. However, the result of everything was that when the fog 
dissipated or was discontinued, the Zionist leaders were found standing on the 

steps of the Foreign Office. In February the first unobscured meeting between 
them and an appointed delegate of the Government took place. Sir Mark Sykes 
was the Government’s representative. 

During the six months or so of obscurity which had preceded this meeting, 
while the Zionist leaders had used it to the extreme advantage we have seen, 
they had also got a little lost in it between times. The fog had the defects of its 
qualities. Public events continued too upon a great and absorbing scale for the 
Government. The state of Russia, the preoccupations of France and of Britain 
with the Greek situation, the Cabinet troubles of Great Britain herself, had 
forced Zionist projects into the background. The Petrograd memorandum had 
been fairly well received in Russia, but then Russia herself had begun to break 

Russia’s defection had emphasized the need of acquiring the help of the 
United States for the Allied cause. In the United States the main obstacle to 
adoption of the Allied cause was thought to lie in the power of the German - 
Americans. But most of the German- Americans were Jewish. Therefore the lull 
of interest in Zionism ended as soon as it was put forward again, this time as 
presenting a means of winning round German-American sympathy. 

Previous to that, though, and while the Foreign Office was passing from the 
hands of Sir Edward Grey into those of Lord Balfour, the Zionist leaders in 
England had been only intermittently in evidence. It is even possible that their 
October memorandum had shocked what may be called the “conscience-group” 
in the Foreign Office, which was in a position to keep them at a distance while 
their major protectors were engaged with first-class crises. 

The fullest account of how relations with the new Government were now 
welded has been given by Mr. Samuel Landman, in some reminiscences 
contributed some three years ago, on the 22nd February and 1st March, to the 
review World Jewry. Mr. Landman, a leader of the Revisionists, the most 
advanced section of political Zionists, was M. Sokolov’s secretary at the time, 
and afterwards was secretary of the World Zionist Organization. He was 
therefore in close touch with these affairs. There are some words of comment to 
be made upon his account, but a summary of the facts as he retails them may be 
given first. 

He says, then, that Sir Mark Sykes, by the latter’s own account, had been 
trying to get in touch with this Jewish German-American opinion without much 
success. Sir Mark Sykes, I may interpolate, was Assistant-Secretary to the War 
Office then, a position which however was not at all departmental. It was his 
official title, but in reality he acted as liaison officer between the War Office, 
the India Office, the Intelligence organizations, and other bodies of the highest 
importance. He used to visit all the seats of power daily, co-ordinating their 
information, besides interviewing generals back from the front on leave, 
ambassadors and ministers, people of every standing and of every position, 

Palestine: The Reality 


provided they had something worth telling to tell him. He had the ear of the 
Cabinet of course, and was in sum a man of the greatest influence. 

It is not difficult to perceive why he had not been so successful in his 
German-American endeavours. He, with the “conscience-group” at the Foreign 
Office very possibly, was trying to work through the leaders of British Jewry, 
through the moderate Lucien Wolf section, through various rabbis whose only 
aim was to establish a spiritual-cultural Jewish centre in Palestine. 

I return to Mr. Landman. Sir Mark Sykes was regretting his insuccess one 
day in the presence of Mr. James Malcolm, “a prominent British-Armenian” as 
Mr. Wickham Steed designates him. Mr. Malcolm, a Balliol man, belonged to a 
family of Armenian origin but British for several generations. He was in 
contact with some ardent political Zionists, and he now told Sir Mark Sykes 
that it was to the political Zionists he should have turned. “You are going the 
wrong way about it,” he said, “the well to-do English Jews you meet and the 
Jewish clergy are not the real leaders of the Jewish people.” Political Zionism 
or national Zionism, as Mr. Malcolm called it, was the key to influence over the 
Jewish body in the United States, and to more even than that. Mr. Malcolm said 
that there was a way to make American Jews thoroughly pro-Ally, and that he 
knew a man in America who was probably the most intimate friend of President 
Wilson. Through that man, if through anybody, the President’s mind could be 
turned towards active participation in the War on the side of the Allies. (The 
man in question was Judge Louis Brandeis, of the United States Supreme 

“You can win the sympathy of Jews everywhere,” added Mr. Malcolm, “in 
one way only, and that way is by offering to try and secure Palestine for them.” 
Sir Mark Sykes, with the chocolate internationalized Palestine of his own treaty 
before his eyes, said that this was impossible. Mr. Malcolm, who (in my 
opinion) knew more of the previous tractations 1 of Lord Balfour and of Mr. 
Lloyd George than Sir Mark Sykes did, said that the latter ought to put the 
suggestion before the Cabinet at any rate. Sykes spoke to Lord Milner about it, 
and when he told Mr. Malcolm this, Malcolm spoke again of what might be 
accomplished through Judge Brandeis’s influence. Mr. Malcolm’s motives 
were disinterested; he believed in Zionism as a political force and thought it 
would be valuable to the Allied cause in America. 

After more conversations it was agreed (the Cabinet, or such members of it 
as were approached, finding no obstacle apparently in contrary treaties) that 
negotiations should be undertaken, with the aim of obtaining Transatlantic 
support, on the basis of securing Palestine for the Jews. Mr. Malcolm had 
insisted that it was no good approaching Zionist leaders unless there was 
something in the way of a concrete offer to make to them. 

1 [A written negotiation, treatment of the points at issue.] 
Palestine: The Reality 

Various persons now became involved, including Mr. Greenberg, the editor 
of the Jewish Chronicle. There were meetings at Dr. Weizmann’s house in 
Addison Road, whither he had come from Manchester. Malcolm met 
Weizmann there, for the first time apparently, Mr. Greenberg having been, 
presumably, his point of contact with the movement. Then Sir Mark Sykes met 
M. Sokolov and Dr. Weizmann several times, with the knowledge and approval 
of Sir Maurice Hankey, the Secretary of the War Cabinet. 

A passage in extenso may now be taken from Mr. Laudman’s article. He 

After an understanding had been arrived at between Sir Mark Sykes 
and Weizmann and Sokolov, it was resolved to send a secret message to 
Justice Brandeis that the British Cabinet would help the Jews to gain 
Palestine in return for active Jewish sympathy and for support in the 
U.S.A. for the Allied cause, so as to bring about a radical pro-Ally 
tendency in the United States. This message was sent in cipher through 
the Foreign Office. One of the principal Under-Secretaries at the time 
was Sir Ronald Graham. He was in the confidence of Sir Mark Sykes and 
during the whole time he was at the Foreign Office he was of unfailing 
help to the Zionists. Secret messages were also sent to the Zionist leaders 
in Russia to hearten them and to obtain their support for the Allied cause, 
which was being affected by Russian ill-treatment of the Jews. Messages 
were also sent to Jewish leaders in neutral countries, and the result was to 
strengthen the pro- Ally sympathies of Jews everywhere. 

Through General Macdonogh, who was won over by Fitzmaurice 
[Mr. G. H. Fitzmaurice, Dragoman of the British Embassy in 
Constantinople for many years, a man of great influence], Dr. Weizmann 
was able, about this time, to secure from the Government the service of 
half a dozen younger Zionists for active work on behalf of Zionism. At 
that time conscription was in force, and only those who were engaged on 
work of national importance could be released from active service at the 
Front. I remember Dr. Weizmann writing a letter to General Macdonogh 
(Director of Military Operations) and invoking his assistance in 
obtaining the exemption from active service of Leon Simon, Harry 
Sacher, Simon Marks, Hyamson Tolkowsky and myself. At Dr. 
Weizmann’s request 1 was transferred from the War Office (M.I.9), 
where 1 was then working, to the Ministry of Propaganda, which was 
under Lord Northcliffe, and later to the Zionist office, where 1 
commenced work about December 1916. Simon Marks actually arrived 
at the Office in khaki, and immediately set about the task of organizing 
the office which, as will he easily understood, had to maintain constant 
communication with Zionists in most countries. 

From that time onwards for several years Zionism was considered an 
ally of the British Government, and every help and assistance was 

forthcoming from each government department. Passport or travel 
difficulties did not exist when a man was recommended by our office. 

For instance a certificate signed by me was accepted by the Home Office 
at that time as evidence that an Ottoman Jew was to be treated as a 
friendly alien and not as an enemy, which was the case with the Turkish 

A most enlightening passage indeed. It is confirmed at one point by Mrs. 
Dugdale, who dates the period from which use of the official cipher began. 
Speaking of the submission of the October Programme she adds: 

Something hardly less significant happened in the same month. Dr. 
Weizmann and M. Sokolov were allowed to communicate with each 
other, and with other Zionist leaders abroad, by sending telegrams 
through the Foreign Office, which transmitted them in code. 

When Dr. Weizmann or M. Sokolov were on the Continent they had the 
same privilege through British Embassies or Legations. 

With the quotation from Mr. Landman which has just been given, we reach 
in his account the “official” interview of February 1917, which followed on the 
transactions he describes. Concerning his account there is this to be mentioned. 
It subordinates the activity of Dr. Weizmann to that of Mr. Malcolm very 
considerably, at least in the earlier stage. No doubt the Zionist leader, and M. 
Sokolov too, were less in evidence in later 1916. But the Petrograd 
memorandum is proof definite that national or political Zionism and not 
internationalized Palestine was in the British Government’s programme in the 
spring, and no one but Dr. Weizmann and his associates could have placed it 
there. Mark Sykes may have been ignorant of political Zionism. On Mr. 
Landman’s showing he was; which implies that when he was negotiating with 
the Russian Government the Grey memorandum to that Government was not 
disclosed to him. This would correspond well with the sort of policy which was 
being carried out; pretty stuff indeed. 

But the assumption that negotiations between the Government proper and 
Dr. Weizmann had come to a standstill, and that they were only rescued by the 
Malcolm intervention from breakdown and a consequent end of the Anglo- 
Zionist programme so far as it was composed then, seems overstrained. This 
can be said without belittling in any way the part played by Mr. Malcolm. The 
period of decline of one Government and of entry into power of another was 
bound to weaken relations with the Zionist leaders for a while, but with Balfour 
and Lloyd George in power it could only be a temporary delay. It must be 
remembered that the political Zionists have their own internal dissensions, 
which must colour their accounts of things. In the struggle for control which 
afterwards developed between the Weizmann group and the Brandeis group, the 
respective share of these leaders and of their sympathizers in maintaining the 

cause from the start bulks or shrinks according to the particular body to which 
the Zionist writer belongs, in whose text one reads of it. 

It may also be suggested that Zionist exuberance sometimes makes 
convinced adherents of Zionist doctrine out of generals and under-secretaries 
who were merely following out instructions from their chiefs and eventually 
from the Cabinet. There is no clue to their motives, which may have been 
convinced, but may have been altogether utilitarian. 

With these provisos, the tale of events may be resumed at the meeting of 
February 1917. This was held at the house of Dr. Moses Gaster, an able 
member of the increasing band of Zionist leaders, by whom Sir Mark Sykes had 
been much attracted. 

By one of those fictions which give a cherished four -dimensional air to 
diplomacy, on that 7th of February, Sykes was not present at the meeting as 
Assistant-Secretary to the War Cabinet, but as himself, “in his private 
capacity.” When drawing up his treaty with M. Picot, conversely, he had been 
present, not as himself, but as a Foreign Office Official. 

At Dr. Gaster’ s he found, in addition to his host, Lord Rothschild, Sir 
Herbert Samuel, Messrs. James de Rothschild, Cowen, Bentwich, Harry 
Sacher, and of course Dr. Weizmann and M. Sokolov, all without doubt present 
in every conceivable personal and impersonal capacity. It was indeed not a very 
specific gathering. The Rothschilds, who gave the dignity of their name to the 
assembly, were recent enough appearances at the prow of political Zionism, and 
were no more in the engine-room or at the helm of the movement than any 
other figure-heads. Dr. Weizmann, Dr. Gaster, M. Sokolov and Mr. Cowen on 
the other hand directed its speed and course. Another exponent of the political 
movement was Mr. Bentwich, afterwards to be Attorney-General in the 
Palestine Administration. He had written that “State sovereignty is not essential 
to the Jewish national ideal.” But he had predicated the concession to Zionist 
settlements and settlers in Palestine of “special rights” which were equivalent to 
sovereignty since they ousted the inhabitants of the country from control over 
either settlers or settlements. He had also spoken of the territory stretching from 
the Mediterranean to the Euphrates as “Greater Palestine,” had said that it was 
full of historical associations for the Jews, and that it cried for “a population to 
redeem it from the neglect and decay of centuries.” He was of opinion that 
“Jewish colonization might extend” to this territory. 

Sir Herbert Samuel represented the slowest form of evolutionary Zionism. 
He aimed at such form of Government in Palestine as would evolve in the long 
run into Jewish rule. Mr. Harry Sacher was a sort of proxy for Gentile interests 
and a direct representative of Manchester’s guardian hand. 

A composite group altogether. Everyone present was for a Zionist State, but 
some were “long-runners,” like Sir Herbert Samuel, and some were “short- 
hoppers,” along a scale in which long hops and short runs were not excluded. 
The gathering therefore put no positive proposals to Sir Mark Sykes. But in a 

Palestine: The Reality 


negative way it spoke categorically. The Assistant-Secretary to the War Cabinet 
was told that there must be no internationalization of Palestine, because 
Zionists desired a British Protectorate “with full rights to the Jews to develop as 
a nation.” It was the first time the word “must” had been used to His Majesty’s 
Government. In the Petrograd memorandum the quoted prohibition still had 
been veiled. 

The meeting decided to narrow negotiations to fewer people (and 
incidentally perhaps to fewer policies) and M. Nahum Sokolov, who was the 
chief agent in Britain of the International Zionist Executive, was chosen to 
carry on conversations with Sir Mark Sykes. It was arranged that M. Picot 
should join them to represent the French Government. He conferred with Sykes 
next day. “Thus opened,” says the Zionist report of the event, “the chapter of 
negotiations which ended nine months later with the Balfour Declaration.” 

The minutes of this meeting were communicated forthwith in cipher to the 
Zionist Organization of the United States. This cipher privilege certainly was a 
logical one. From now on the Political Zionist organization in the United States 
began to take a hand in the shaping of British policy and in the ordering of 
British affairs. 

After this meeting between Sir Mark Sykes and M. Picot with the Zionist 
leaders were continued and also there were some less formal meetings between 
Dr. Weizmann and various British statesmen and publicists. The month of 
February ended with little more to note — unless to cast a commiserating eye at 
the innocent Arabs, moving northwards now, against Wejh, on the limits of the 
Hedjaz territory, touching as they thought for the first time the borders of their 
new independence. Wejh was on the coast, more than two hundred miles north 
and west of Medain, and the occupation of it would mean that the railway 
which fed Medain with life was threatened on the flank, and Medina itself was 
in danger of isolation if that railway were cut. 

Fawrence was with Feisal, and they marched or rode, five thousand men on 
camels, through the desert towards their half-real, half-figurative goal. The 
Arabs did the last fifty miles on water, with nothing to eat. But they made little 
of this because of the stimulus which now they felt. “The advance on Wejh,” 
says Lawrence, “was their biggest effort: the first time in memory that the 
manhood of a tribe with transport, arms, and food for two hundred miles, had 
left its district and marched into another’s territory without the hope of plunder 
or the stimulus of blood-feud.” A young Bedouin chief pointed out to 
Fawrence, one night, the hollows of the sand-valleys “winking with the faint 
camp-fires of the scattered contingents. He called me to look, and swept his 
arm round, saying half sadly, ‘We are no longer Arabs but a People.’ ” 

Next night, so well every man knew the purport of their great adventure, a 
sheikh of another tribe repeated much the same thought to him, an old man this 
time, Auda ibn Zuweid. He corrected Fawrence, who had spoken of their army, 
and said gravely, “It is not an army, it is a world which is moving on Wejh.” 

A further Arab contingent, coming from another direction, outstripped them 
and took Wejh, the guns of a British warship cowing the garrison and sailors 
being landed in co-operation. The tribes now were pouring to the banners. “The 
roads to Wejh swarmed with envoys and volunteers and great sheikhs riding in 
to swear allegiance.” Feisal made them take oath on the Koran “to wait while 
he waited, march when he marched, to yield obedience to no Turk, to deal 
kindly with all who spoke Arabic and to put independence above life, family 
and goods.” 

Words echoing in the sands! March saw more practical achievements in 
Fondon. The Foreign Office sent a note to the War Cabinet endorsing the 
advantages of British support of Zionism. The Russian revolution had broken 
out on the 12th, and it was thought that as many Jewish personages were 
involved in the revolution they might be rendered more favourable to a 
continuance of alliance with the Western Powers if given this sop. The Zionist 
leaders took advantage of the position to come out boldly against the Sykes - 
Picot Treaty. They knew of the general British project for internationalizing 
Palestine, but they had not known that this was already the subject of an Anglo- 
French agreement. But now they got information of it, of the principal lines of 
it, from a French source. 

Mrs. Dugdale supplies an account of what was the situation then. “Dr. 
Weizmann’s first interview with Balfour at the Foreign Office” — the fresh gain 
in status will be observed — “in March 1917 was concerned with difficulties 
arising from French and Italian claims in Palestine. Balfour suggested that, 
failing agreement with France, it might be best to aim at a joint Anglo- 
American Protectorate. Dr. Weizmann felt doubtful of the prospects of working 
under two masters, whose general principles of administration might be far 
apart. But he and his friends were much more perturbed by rumours of a 
Franco-British division of Palestine, leaving Tiberias and part of Galilee in 
French hands. This was in fact the line of the Sykes-Picot agreement, news of 
which had leaked out.” 

That there were Arab claims to Palestine which nonsuited those of any 
European State and that the country was peopled by Arabs were facts of course 
sedulously ignored by Ford Balfour. He and Mark Sykes advised the Zionist 
leaders to go to Paris and to Rome to press their case. This they did. First they 
decided to try and see the authorities of the Quai d’Orsay. Mr. Landman may be 
quoted again: 

Malcolm again rendered immense service to the Zionist cause. As a 
member of the Armenian National Delegation he was personally 
acquainted with the leading French officials in charge of Near Eastern 
affairs — especially M. Gout, M. Picot and M. de Margerie. They were 
the three key-men for the Zionist purpose. Malcolm went first alone to 
M. Picot, and prepared the way for Sokolov. Sokolov had previously 
tried to invoke the assistance of French Jewry in getting an audience 

Palestine: The Reality 


from the French Government, He had not been successful. The “ Alliance 
Israelite ” had used every effort to dissuade him from talking Zionism to 
the Ministers. 

Even Baron Edmond de Rothschild, the devoted friend of Palestine 
and of the Zionist leaders, could not very well ask the French 
Government to depart in favour of England from its traditional role of 
protector of Christians in the Near East. The position was such that 
Sokolov doubted very much whether he would be given an audience at 
the Quai d’Orsay. With the help of Malcolm however all the difficulties 
were overcome, and the leaders of French Jewry, to their intense 
amazement and annoyance, read in the Temps that M. Sokolov had been 
received by M. Pichon, the Foreign Minister. Not only that, but they 
found that M. Sokolov had actually been invited to stay to lunch. M. 
Jacques Bigart and M. Sylvain Levi, both of the “ Alliance Israelite ,” 
telephoned to M. Sokolov’s hotel to make sure they had heard aright, and 
finished up by inviting Sokolov themselves. 

The backing of the British Foreign Secretary and of other personages of the 
Government is overlooked in this account. It was very helpful to M. Sokolov, 
who besides had met M. Picot in London, on the morrow of the February 7th 
meeting. Picot had not been encouraging then, but when M. Sokolov paid his 
Paris visit in March the French diplomatist knew how strong was the support 
gathering in England behind political Zionism. 

What is most notable in Mr. Landman’s account is his fra nk ness about 
French Jewry. The situation in Paris was what it had been in London. The chief 
French Jews did not like this perversion of Zionism nor the proposals for the 
appropriation of Palestine. M. Sylvain Levi, the most distinguished of French 
Jews, who belonged to the College de France, remained an ardent opponent of 
the political theories. 

M. Sokolov and his companions stayed about a month in Paris, and in the 
end prevailed over the French Government’s reluctances. “How they prevailed 
does not come into this story,” says Mrs. Dugdale. Nor will come into any story 
probably, though the promise of altering the attitude of the United States no 
doubt played its part. “The upshot was cabled across the Atlantic by M. 
Sokolov from Paris to the American Zionists on April 24th. The French Foreign 
Office had agreed that an Allied victory in the Middle East would mean 
recognition of Zionism.” (Dugdale.) 

In Italy it is doubtful whether M. Sokolov had as definite an agreement to 
cable. But he seems to have been satisfied enough with his Roman visit, where 
Sykes had prepared his way for him amply at the Vatican, the Consulta, and the 
British Embassy. His conversations at the Vatican turned on the situation of the 
Holy Places of Christendom. From Rome “each achievement,” relate Messrs. 
Wise and de Haas in their joint work, “was cabled to Zionist organizations over 
British-controlled cables.” British messengers delivered them too. 

Palestine: The Reality 

It was proof of the growing power of the Zionist leaders, of which this 
telegraphic complaisance was an outward sign, that they should have tried to 
secure the annulling of the Sykes-Picot pact. What is more they succeeded in 
doing so, or in securing what was tantamount to the annulment of the portions 
which affected them. Not only did the French Government admit the 
recognition of Zionism, though it had no place in the Sykes-Picot provisions, 
but the international zone was deleted from the text. Nothing was stated or 
disclosed officially, but internationalization vanished, spurlos versenkt } When 
the revised Sykes-Picot documents became the basis of the abortive Treaty of 
Sevres in 1920, the clause providing for internationalization was gone. With 
that clause disappeared too the conscientious stipulation that the prospective 
international ruling body of Palestine must consult Arab representatives before 
disposing of the future of that country and of its Arab populace. To quote the 
Petrograd memorandum, “it had met with opposition on the part of influential 
Jewish circles.” Or as a pamphlet written by Mr. Sidebotham puts it, “in 1917 
our views on the war-settlement began to take on a more idealistic tinge, which 
was confirmed by the entry of the United States into the War.” 

This entry of the United States into the War had important effects in several 
ways upon the fate of Palestine. A statement of war-aims in the Near East was 
issued under the auspices of the Government, which was directed in particular 
towards the Jews of the United States. It ran: 

It is proposed that the following be adopted as the heads of a scheme 
for a Jewish re-settlement of Palestine in accordance with Jewish 
National aspirations: 

1. Basis of Settlement. 

Recognition of Palestine as the Jewish National Home. 

2. Status of Jewish Population in Palestine generally. 

The Jewish population present and future throughout Palestine is to 
enjoy and possess full national, political and civic rights. 

3. Immigration into Palestine. 

The Suzerain Government shall grant full and free rights of 
immigration into Palestine to Jews of all countries. 

4. The Establishment of a Chartered Company. 

The Suzerain Government shall grant a Charter to a Jewish Company 
for the colonization and development of Palestine, the Company to have 
power to acquire and take over any concessions for works of a public 
character, which may have been or may hereafter be granted by the 
Suzerain Government and the rights of pre-emption of Crown lands or 
other lands not held in private or religious ownership, and such other 
powers and privileges as are usual in Charters or Statutes of similar 
colonizing bodies. 

1 [Sunk without trace. —] 


5. Communal Autonomy. 

Full autonomy is to be enjoyed by Jewish communities throughout 
Palestine in all matters bearing upon their religious or communal welfare 
and their education. 

What was this “British” statement of war-aims in the Near East? Again 
nothing other than a Zionist document taken over and re-edited. It is the 
programme of the previous October, complete with references to the 
“suzerain,” and with several other of the original phrases reappearing. When 
first issued, as the October Programme, it had been termed a “basis for 
discussion” between the Zionists and Whitehall. The basis had crept up by now 
and had become the main structure of the Government’s statement of policy; a 
magic formation. 

It is worth while indeed to stop a moment here to recapitulate the magic 
steps by which Zionism reached the astonishing position gained in this April 
statement. Consider its stages. First of all political Zionism floats in the minds 
of some adepts. A few books giving its theories, in the Russian or German 
tongues chiefly, come to England. A handful of the adepts also transport 
themselves to England, and translate, in both senses of that word, their 
doctrines to this country. In the mind of a Cabinet Minister of their race the 
culture finds an appropriate medium for growth, and expands, till he eases what 
has been thronging his brain into a memorandum on paper. This passes to his 
colleagues and working through them develops, with additions from the 
original adepts, into a further memorandum, the Petrograd document, which 
half inquires about this Zionism, half supputes 1 the advantages of patronizing it, 
if a satisfactory form for it can be found. 

In order to supply this form, the doctrine is tabulated thereon by its original 
propagators, in a manner which they dub official, but, since they have no status, 
is official for them alone. This is presented to British ministers, to the 
Ambassador in Paris. Shortly afterwards it is recognized, or rather is accepted 
as an official presentation by the Government. Upon which those who 
presented it by an inevitable process themselves turn into official persons. 

The next step is for the now official Zionist leaders to submit a document, 
the latest embodiment of all that has gone before, the October Programme, and 
this the Government says it will take into consideration, thereby half sharing it. 
Soon, and finally, comes the Government’s own announcement of war-aims, 
which proves to be, in all that matters, identical with this October document. So 
what began as a remote idea in the heads of a few strangers, in the far parts of 
Europe, has now become the mind and the policy of the British Empire. And 
though this development has been crammed into three years, the violence of the 
process has escaped observation, and has appeared to be in the order of nature. 

1 [Calculates, evaluates, estimates. A borrowing from French. Jeffries is quite free with 
these, and his neolisms — "insuccess.”] 

Palestine: The Reality 

In reality the growth of political Zionism had not been natural at all. It 
corresponded to nothing so much as the mango-tree trick, now in this political 
version of it practised upon the greatest scale and with the nimblest sleight-of- 
hand in the history of conjuring statesmanship. 

The same month that the mango thus blossomed, another fruitful event 
occurred. Lord Balfour left England to visit the United States. The chief purport 
of his journey was to weld relations with that country, now that she had joined 
the Allies in the field. In this purpose he succeeded admirably. But the sub- 
motive of advancing the Anglo-Americano-Zionist project was also fixed in his 
mind. He encountered Mr. Brandeis, the Zionist leader and confidant of 
President Wilson, the trump-card of Zionism in the United States, very soon 
after landing, at a White House party. “You are one of the Americans I had 
wanted to meet,” Balfour said, and “a day or two later they had the first of one 
or two talks. ... It seems from such notes of these conversations as survive that 
Balfour pledged his own personal support to Zionism. He had done it before to 
Dr. Weizmann, but now he was British Foreign Secretary.” (Dugdale.) 

Mr. Justice Brandeis seems to have become increasingly emphatic 
during the course of the British Mission’s visit, about the desire of the 
American Zionists to see a British Administration in Palestine. He gave 
no great encouragement to the idea of United States participation, 
observing that the bulk of American citizens were still opposed to the 
War, and would not wish to undertake responsibilities outside it. Dr. 
Weizmann’ s letters and telegrams were keeping him shrewdly informed 
of the British point of view. England, Dr. Weizmann said, was not 
yearning to annex Palestine, and would hardly care to oppose the 
internationalization which would be fatal to Zionist hopes, except for the 
attraction which the idea of large-scale Jewish settlement was beginning 
to have for her. Hence, Zionist policy must be to keep to that simple 
demand for a British Protectorate, rejecting all other schemes which 
would tend to raise fresh jealousies, and bring about some form of joint 
control. The American Zionists grasped the point. 

Whereon Mrs. Dugdale, from whom 1 have taken this further citation, discovers 
triumphantly (though surely somewhat tardily) that “A Jewish national 
diplomacy was in being.” 

The “simple demand for a British Protectorate” containing some form of 
“joint control” had been defined already in Dr. Weizmann’ s memorandum of 
two years before. In this he had said: “I therefore thought that the middle course 
should be adopted: viz., the Jews take over the country: the whole burden of 
organization falls on them, but for the next ten or fifteen years they work under 
a British Protectorate.” Very diplomatically worded, indeed. In consideration of 
what the taking-over of the country by the Jews meant for the Arab inhabitants, 


the description of that process as “the whole burden of organization” would not 
have displeased the author of The Prince. 

However it was expressed, the Protectorate plan was that which Brandeis 
and the political Zionists of the United States adopted, which Mr. Brandeis 
instilled into President Wilson. “Mandates,” of course, were not yet imagined. 
Balfour, before his visit ended, told the President of the Sykes-Picot 
arrangement (as of other embarrassing secret treaties), but Mr. Wilson does not 
seem to have paid much attention to them. Balfour made no mention, as far as 
can be gathered, of the Anglo-Arab Treaty, and this skeleton in the cupboard 
does not appear to have been communicated to Mr. Brandeis either. 

While the Foreign Secretary was still in the United States, there had been an 
attempt to communicate the news of the Sykes-Picot Treaty in a very different 
quarter. Sir Mark Sykes and M. Picot went together to Jeddah to disclose it to 
King Hussein. This was done on Sykes’s initiative, though the fact that the new 
Russian Government had denounced the secret treaties which divided the Near 
East, and was believed to be preparing the publication of their texts, supplied 
the Government with an additional motive for frankness. “To lessen the shock,” 
says Captain Liddell Hart, “Sykes and Picot were sent to the Hedjaz early in 
May so that they might explain to Hussein and Feisal the broad provisions of 
the treaty and the intentions of the British Government.” Before they reached 
the Hedjaz our first offensive in Palestine, launched by Sir Archibald Murray 
on the 26th March, with the object of capturing Gaza as a preliminary to an 
advance on Jerusalem, had failed in its objective. A second attempt was also 
unsuccessful, and the capture of Palestine clearly became unrealizable for some 

This altered the two emissaries’ plans. “By the time they arrived,” continues 
Captain Liddell Hart, “the collapse of the British offensive against Gaza had 
made the vista of Syria remote, and hence the two commissioners deemed it 
best to leave their treaty in a gentle haze when interpreting it to Hussein. In this 
they were helped perhaps by the difficulties of translation into Arabic.” They 
were indeed. On the day they met — it was the 19th of May — Sir Mark Sykes 
treated King Hussein to a long speech in parliamentary style which no one quite 
understood, and least of all the interpreter, who was a Greek. What the Greek 
passed on in a sort of Arabic was still less understandable to Hussein, who 
cried, “1 don’t understand,” and slapped his thigh, where he kept his McMahon 
Treaty in a special pocket of his robe. He would never let it out of his 
possession. Sir Mark tried another speech. The interpreter floundered still more. 
King Hussein slapped his thigh again, cried, “This is good enough for me,” and 
the proceedings terminated. The visitors insisted no more, as King Hussein had 
grown angry. The impression left upon him by what he could make of Anglo- 
Hellenic -Arabic was that the motive of their journey was to get him to renounce 
for good, there and then, the Arab rights to the coastal districts of north Syria, 
from which he had only consented to “avert his eyes” till the War was over. 

The Emir Feisal accompanied his father on this occasion, which occurred in 
the environs of Jeddah, and so did several of the Syrian leaders who were in the 
Hedjaz now. They and he, though no more informed than Hussein, were 
disturbed, and Feisal asked Colonel Newcombe, Lawrence’s companion-in- 
arms, who was there, what it all meant. Newcombe, trusting the promises he 
had heard, said simply to Feisal that “whatever he took was promised to him.” 
Sykes and Picot departed next day. 

Rumours by then of the Sykes-Picot partition had reached the Arab camp in 
a ragged, roundabout way, through the Turkish lines. Lawrence recounts how 
he dealt with “old Nouri Shalaan” who apparently had been sent to question 
him. Nouri bore a set of documents and asked which of the British pledges 
therein was to be believed. Like Newcombe, with less trust indeed, but with the 
same unwillingness to destroy faith, Lawrence gave a reassuring answer. “In 
his mood, upon my answer, lay the success or failure of Feisal. My advice, 
uttered in some agony of mind, was to trust the latest-in-date of the 
contradictions.” It is obvious that old Nouri Shalaan’s stamp-collection of 
British pronouncements did not contain the really recent issues. 

About the same time Lawrence was asked by other Arab leaders to endorse 
the British Government’s promises of Arab independence. He had had “no 
previous or inner knowledge of the McMahon pledges and the Sykes-Picot 
Treaty,” but his foresight told him that “if we won the War the promises to the 
Arabs were dead paper. Yet the Arab inspiration was our main tool in winning 
the Eastern war. So I assured them that England kept her word in letter and in 
spirit. In this comfort they performed their fine things; but, of course, instead of 
being proud of what we did together I was continually and bitterly ashamed.” 

As soon as he did gain accurate knowledge of the Sykes-Picot arrangement 
Lawrence took another line, and told Feisal openly of it. “Fortunately, I had 
early betrayed the treaty’s existence to Feisal, and had convinced him that his 
escape was to help the British so much that after peace they would not be able, 
for shame, to shoot him down in its [that is, the Sykes-Picot Treaty’s] 
fulfilment; while, if the Arabs did as I intended, there would be no one-sided 
talk of shooting. I begged him not to trust in our promises, like his father, but in 
his own strong performance.” 

But Lawrence and his Arabs once more must give way, as they did in life, to 
the progress of Zionism in two continents. In May something novel occurred to 
political Zionism: it suffered a reverse, something much more important than 
the mere passing decline of interest chronicled earlier in this chapter. The 
opposition amidst the Jews themselves to political Zionism, of which so little 
ever has been heard, came to a head. It spread even — but this was a little later — 
to the Government sphere. A door was dragged open; a breeze of the open air 
came to the heated ante-chambers, and under the jugglers’ cloth the mango 
stopped in its growth. 

Palestine: The Reality 


The origin of this reverse lay in the increasing number of persons who had 
come to hear of the advancing situation gained by the political Zionist 
programme. It had gravely disturbed the principals of British Jewry and it 
occupied the Jewish Press. On the 20th of May Dr. Weizmann, presiding over a 
special conference of delegates from the Constituent Societies of the Jewish 
community in Great Britain, had expounded in a public declaration the policy 
of his party. (I shall quote presently what he had to say.) Moved by this, four 
days later Messrs. Alexander and Montefiore, Presidents respectively of the 
Board of Deputies of British Jews and of the Anglo-Jewish Association, in the 
name of the Conjoint Committee of these two bodies, dispatched to The Times a 
manifesto of protest. 

They declared that, in view of the statements and the discussions lately 
published relative to a projected Jewish settlement in Palestine on a national 
basis, the Conjoint Foreign Committee of the above-mentioned bodies deemed 
it necessary to put on record the views which they held. They began by 
declaring their sympathy with Zionism, if it were carried out in a non-political 
manner. They declared their adherence to the formula of March 1916 (Mr. 
Lucien Wolfs, which the Petrograd memorandum had shelved). They went on 
to say that the “establishment of a Jewish nationality in Palestine, founded on 
the theory of Jewish homelessness, must have the effect throughout the world 
of stamping the Jews as strangers in their native lands and of undermining their 
hard-won positions as citizens and nationals of those lands.” 

They pointed out that the theories of political Zionism undermined the 
religious basis of Jewry. The only alternative to a religious basis would be 

a secular Jewish nationality, recruited on some loose and obscure 
principle of race and of ethnographic peculiarity. But this would not be 
Jewish in any spiritual sense, and its establishment in Palestine would be 
a denial of all the ideals and hopes by which the survival of Jewish life in 
that country commends itself to the Jewish conscience and to Jewish 
sympathy. On these grounds the Conjoint Committee of the Board of 
Deputies and the Anglo-Jewish Association deprecates most earnestly 
the national proposals of the [political] Zionists. 

The second part in the Zionist programme which has aroused the 
misgivings of the Conjoint Committee is the proposal to invest the 
Jewish settlers [in Palestine] with certain special rights in excess of those 
enjoyed by the rest of the population, these rights to be embodied in a 
Charter and to be administered by a Jewish Chartered Company. In all 
the countries in which Jews live the principle of equal rights for all 
religious denominations is vital to them. Were they to set an example in 
Palestine of disregarding this principle they would convict themselves of 
having appealed to it for purely selfish motives. In the countries in which 
they are still struggling for equal rights they would find themselves 
hopelessly compromised. 

Palestine: The Reality 

The letter of protest ended with these words: 

The [political Zionist] proposal is the more inadmissible because the 
Jews are and probably long will remain a minority of the population of 
Palestine, and it might involve them in the bitterest feuds with their 
neighbours of other races and religions, which would severely retard 
their progress and find deplorable echoes throughout the Orient. 

It is superfluous to point out how far-seeing and how justified is this 
document. What a different situation both Britain and the Jews would have had 
in the Near East to-day if these counsels had been heeded. But, to quote Mrs. 
Dugdale, “Dr. Weizmann and his group were now making superhuman efforts 
to mobilize the scattered nation (that is the Jews) in every Allied country for a 
united demand for a British Protectorate over a Commonwealth in Palestine.” 
These efforts naturally reached their maximum on British soil, and valuable 
adherents had been included in the mobilization. So the then Chief Rabbi wrote 
to The Times to say that the Alexander-Montefiore letter had not been 
authorized by the Board of Deputies or by the Anglo-Jewish Association, and 
that these bodies at large had not had an opportunity of considering its contents. 

Lord Rothschild wrote too, from Tring Park, that “we Zionists cannot see 
how the establishment of an autonomous Jewish State under the aegis and 
protection of one of the Allied Powers” can, or could be subversive of the 
loyalty of Jewish subjects to the countries of which they were members. “In the 
letter you have published the question is also raised of a Chartered Company. 
We Zionists have always felt that if Palestine is to be colonized by the Jews 
some machinery must be set up to receive the immigrants, settle them on the 
land and develop the land, and to be generally a directing agency. I can only 
again emphasize that we Zionists have no wish for privileges at the expense of 
other nationalities , but only desire to be allowed to work out our destinies side 
by side with other nationalities in an autonomous State under the suzerainty of 
one of the Allied Powers.” 

It is I who have italicized some of the words of the noble lord. The 
anonymity of the Allied Power which was to be suzerain is respected 
magnificently in his communication. But its chief interest lies in the appearance 
in it at this early stage of the pretension that the Zionists “only desire to work 
out their destinies side by side with other nationalities.” As years have gone by 
this plausible “side by side” gambit has figured more and more in Zionist 
strategy for the winning of Palestine. But Lord Rothschild doubtless introduced 
it with perfect honesty. He had given no attention to the implications of the 
phrase “side by side.” The expression suggests, and is used for propaganda 
because it suggests, the existence of two persons or bodies of equal power 
working heartily together at one task from which they draw equal benefit and 
obtain equal aggrandisement. But when in fact, as is the case in Palestine, one 
body is powerful and the other powerless, one body rich and the other poor, one 
body expert and the other simple; when also the two bodies seek contradictory 


destinies, then it is mendacious to use the expression “side by side” for the 
adjacent display of their activities. 

More striking though than Lord Rothschild’s letter at this juncture was the 
rejoinder of Dr. Weizmann himself, writing as President of the English Zionist 
Federation. He made two points. The first was that “it is strictly a question of 
fact that the Jews are a nationality. An overwhelming majority of them has 
always had the conviction that they were a nationality, which has been shared 
by non-Jews in all countries.” Undoubtedly the thesis thus put forward by Dr. 
Weizmann is one which can be argued, nor is it likely that the division of 
opinion upon it would correspond to the line which divides people upon 
political Zionism. It is not with Dr. Weizmann’ s first, but with his second point 
that I am concerned: 

The Zionists [resumed he] are not demanding in Palestine 
monopolies or exclusive privileges, nor are they asking that any part of 
Palestine should be administered by a Chartered Company to the 
detriment of others. It always was and remains a cardinal principle of 
Zionism as a democratic movement that all races and sects in Palestine 
should enjoy full justice and liberty, and Zionists are confident that the 
new suzerain whom they hope Palestine will acquire as a result of the 
War will, in its administration of the country, be guided by the same 

This was Dr. Weizmann addressing himself to the readers of The Times , that 
is to say to the members of the British public. There can be no better comment 
upon his pleading than to set down again the terms in which the Zionist 
Organization, of which he was the leader in Britain, had addressed itself to the 
members of the British Government in its “Formal Statement” of the previous 

1. The Jewish Chartered Company is to have power to exercise the 
right of pre-emption of Crown and other lands and to acquire for its own 
use all or any concessions which may at any time be granted by the 
suzerain government or governments. 

2. The present population, being too small, too poor and too little 
trained to make rapid progress, requires the introduction of a new and 
progressive element in the population. 

It seems beyond belief that having made representations of this sort to the 
Government in the autumn the Zionist leader should venture to declare to the 
public in the spring that Zionists demanded no privileges nor monopolies for 
themselves, and predicated for all races in Palestine full justice and liberty. But 
let us follow Dr. Weizmann further. The situation, to use the phrase of his own 
organization, requires the introduction of a portion of that speech of his of the 

20th of May which in the first instance had induced Messrs. Alexander’s and 
Montefiore’s protest. 

This was no chance utterance. The conference at which he delivered it was 
specially convened and was attended by a particular audience. It was held in 
order that “a communication on the political situation, as it affected the Jewish 
National movement, might be made to the Jewish societies through their 
delegates.” Before speaking the orator consulted those members of the 
Government with whom he had had dealings, and his discourse was in agreed 
terms. The italics in the citation which 1 give are my own. 

Dr. Weizmann said: 

I shall try to outline, as much as is possible to do so, what are our 
plans and how we think we shall be able to carry them out. And before 1 
do so let me do away with one or two which perhaps I may call 
misunderstandings or what may be called wrong phrases. One reads 
constantly in the Press and one hears from one’s friends, both Jewish and 
non-Jewish, that it is the endeavour of the Zionist movement immediately 
to create a Jewish State in Palestine. Our American friends went further 
than that, and they have even determined the form of that State by 
advocating a Jewish republic. While heartily welcoming all these 
demonstrations as a genuine manifestation of the Jewish national will, 
we cannot consider them as safe statesmanship. Strong as the Zionist 
movement may be, full of enthusiasm as the Zionists may be at the 
present time, it must be obvious to everybody who stands in the midst of 
the work of the Zionist Organization, and it must be admitted honestly 
and truly, that the conditions are not yet ripe for the setting up of a State 
ad hoc. States must be built up slowly, gradually, systematically and 
patiently. We therefore say that while a creation of a Jewish 
Commonwealth in Palestine is our fined ideal — an ideal for which the 
whole of the Zionist Organization is working — the way to achieve it lies 
through a series of intermediate stages. And one of these intermediary 
stages which I hope is going to come about as a result of the war is that 
the fair country of Palestine will be protected by such a mighty and a just 
Power as Great Britain. Under the wing of this Power Jews will be able 
to develop and to set up the administrative machinery which, while not 
interfering with the legitimate interests of the non-Jewish population, 
would enable us to carry out the Zionist scheme. I am entitled to say that 
His Majesty ’s Government is ready to support our plans. 

The first thing to be said about this speech is not pertinent to the immediate 
issue, the internal Jewish differences and the character of the proposed 
Chartered Company. But it is so pertinent to the supreme issues of the whole 
Palestine question that immediate reference to the point in question is 
necessary. The speech was made in May of 1917, two and a half years before 

Palestine: The Reality 


the League of Nations came into being, and nearly three years before the 
Palestine Mandate was “conferred” on Great Britain. So that all the “Mandate” 
chicanery is excellently exposed by it. All the prating about “Britain’s 
obligations” is exposed for the humbug it is. In the middle of 1917 the business 
had been privately arranged already. The “fair country of Palestine” was to go 
to Great Britain, and under her wing the Zionist scheme was to be carried out. 
The plan had been nurtured between the two parties, and Dr. Weizinann 
(unguardedly) had been allowed to affirm the British agreement to support the 
Zionist scheme. Good: there is no getting away from that. 

Reverting to the immediate issue, four days after delivering his speech Dr. 
Weizmann wrote to The Times that Zionists were not demanding privileges or 
monopolies in Palestine. Yet what was his speech but a declaration that the 
whole Zionist Organization was working for that supreme monopoly, a Jewish 
Commonwealth, as he called it. Zionists, as he explained, under British rule 
would be able to set up the administrative machinery which would enable them 
to carry out this scheme in Palestine, through a series of intermediate stages. 
Gradually the country of the Arabs was to be turned into a Jewish one, and His 
Majesty’s Government was ready to support this plan. 

Plan is a polite name for the scheme. The reader may be left to judge it, and 
to judge especially the Government which supported it, in the terms which will 
spring most suitably to his mind. 

Shortly after the publication of Dr. Weizmann’ s letter, a further manifesto 
was sent, on the 1st of June, again to The Times, by eighteen prominent Jews of 
British birth, who declared their solidarity with the protest of Messrs. 
Alexander and Montefiore. Amongst these were Lord Swaythling, Sir Matthew 
Nathan, Messrs. Isidore Spielmann, Ernest Franklin, Laurie Magnus and Israel 
Gollancz. Though the Weizmann influence was growing powerful the 
signatories received plenty of support from their fellow -Jews, and during the 
months which followed they continued their opposition to political Zionism. 
“Just as the leading French Jews tried hard,” acknowledges Mr. Landman, “to 
keep Zionism away from their Government, so did the leading Anglo-Jews do 
their utmost to keep Zionism away from the British Government.” 

Mr. Landman details what happened next: 

Sir Mark Sykes informed us that something must be done to impress 
the Cabinet, and the Zionist leaders were compelled to take up the 
challenge. It was absolutely essential to convince the Cabinet that Anglo- 
Jewry was Zionist in sympathy and outlook, in view of the constant 
denial of this which they heard from the leading Jews. 

A rapid campaign amongst the members of the Jewish Board of 
Deputies was organized, and when it was seen that a majority was 
obtainable, a pro-Zionist resolution was introduced and carried by a 
majority against the wishes and the speeches of the President, David 

Alexander, K.C., and other honorary officers. The President and Mr. 

Henriques resigned, thus leaving the field clear for the Zionists. 

The only error in this is the presumption that all the Cabinet required 
convincing. Some members of it did not care to take action in the face of 
Anglo-Jewish recorded opposition. But Mr. Lloyd George and Lord Balfour 
were quite indifferent to the wishes of Anglo-Jewry. They were determined 
upon the political Zionist plan, and only desired that the Zionists should find 
them some means of evading, with greater or less reasonableness, the Jewish 
obstacle of which they took no heed in itself. 

The whole matter, it should be added, despite the references of both Dr. 
Weizmann and of his adversaries to “constant discussions in the Press” passed 
unnoticed by the bulk of the British people. The Jewish Press, in which indeed 
it had held a large place, does not circulate outside the Jewish community. The 
daily papers read by the overwhelming majority of the public dealt cursorily 
with the passing Zionist crisis, if they dealt with it at all. The letters and the 
speech which I have cited were minor news during the space of a week, and 
though the letters did appear in the premier newspaper of the kingdom, it is not 
a journal read by millions. The Times itself consecrated a single leader to the 
subject, one which leaned to the Weizmann thesis, yet in The Times’s best 
Tower-of-Pisa manner, impressively but without leaning too far. 

With that the controversy dropped out of print, till on the 17th June came the 
meeting of the Conjoint Committee, of which Mr. Landman speaks. There was 
a hot debate, and the resolution disapproving the Alexander-Montefiore protest 
was passed by a majority of five votes, fifty-six to fifty-one. While Mr. 
Alexander resigned his Presidency of the Board of Deputies, on the other hand 
(which Mr. Landman does not record) the Anglo-Jewish Association stood by 
Mr. Montefiore. A singular pronouncement was made on this occasion by Lord 
Rothschild, who denied “most strenuously,” but surely much more 
astoundingly, that “any Zionist plan had yet been submitted to the Government, 
or that any was contemplated which would not preserve the fullest possible 
rights to all inhabitants of Palestine irrespective of race or creed.” 

After this the battle of opinions was lost to public sight, but raged on upon 
its own field of action, and was transported too outside Great Britain. Feeling 
against the new doctrines of political Zionism rose in the United States. A 
number of protests were made there by leading Jews, chiefly upon the ground 
that political Zionism destroyed the Jewish religion as the core and the rallying - 
point of all Jewry. To the great credit of some who protested, they added that 
political Zionism meant unjust treatment and dispossession of the Arab 
population of Palestine. 

On the first point Mr. Jacob Schiff declared, “1 believe that 1 am not far 
wrong if 1 say that from fifty to seventy per cent of the so-called Jewish 
Nationalists are either atheists or agnostics and that the great majority of the 
Jewish Nationalist leaders have absolutely no interest in the Jewish religion.” 

Palestine: The Reality 


At Buffalo, in June, the President of the Annual Convention of the Central 
Conference of American Rabbis thus addressed his audience: 

I am not here to quarrel with Zionism. Mine is only the intention to 
declare that we as rabbis, who are consecrated to the service of the Lord, 
whose lips are to guard knowledge and from whose mouth the people are 
to seek the Law because we are the messengers of the Lord of Hosts, 
have no place in a movement in which Jews band together on racial or 
national grounds, and for a political State or even for a legally-assured 
Home. Upon us rests the obligation to take up and to sound unremittingly 
the keynote to which the Jew has ever given expression. The religious 
Israel, having the sanctions of history, must not be sacrificed to the 
purely racial Israel of modem planning. If it is sacrificed, the religious 
demand of the Jews of our age, apart from other considerations, cannot 
be satisfied. 

In this address one of the root-fallacies of political Zionism was well 
exposed, its invocation of “historic rights” on behalf of a mere piece of the 
most modem “town-planning.” 

On the second point Mr. Mayer Sulzbacher, who had been President of the 
Court of Common Pleas in Pennsylvania, spoke out well. His legal accuracy of 
mind stood him in good stead. “Democracy,” he stated, “means that those who 
live in a country shall select their rulers and shall preserve their powers. Given 
these principles a Convention of Zionists” (such as the Political group was then 
holding) “looking to the government of people who are in Palestine would be in 
contravention of the plainest principle of democracy. It can have no practical 
meaning unless its intent is to overslaugh 1 the people who are in Palestine and 
to deprive them of the right of self-government by substituting the will of 
persons outside, who may or may not ever see Palestine.” 

“Overslaugh” is a rare juridical word, of Dutch origin, meaning to pass over 
illegitimately the legal claims or rights of an individual in favour of any other 
unqualified person or persons. The judge used an exact description of the 
improper act which was preparing against the rights of the Arabs. 

Opinion contrary to the proposals of the political Zionists manifested itself 
upon the Continent of Europe too. In Italy Signor Luzzatti, a former Prime 
Minister and himself a Jew, demanded that Jews should seek to live in Palestine 
as free citizens and not as sovereigns. In France M. Reinach announced himself 
to be a resolute adversary of Zionism. “Jerusalem belongs to all the religions,” 
said this noted Jew. “We know its history for three thousand years. The Jewish 
kingdom endured scarcely five centuries.” It was a pity he did not take up the 
point of its dimensions during those centuries. 

1 [] 
Palestine: The Reality 

But the issues raised by these pronouncements, both in America and in 
Europe, were met by their being ignored. In England, Mr. Lloyd George, Lord 
Balfour, Lord Milner and presently General Smuts, imbued with an 
indescribable mixture of false idealism, of ingenuity and ingenuousness, of 
biblical dilettantism and Hebrew pedantry, of expediency and of gratefulness 
and of bargaining statesmanship, were bent upon the political Zionist plan. 
Lord Cecil also (Lord Robert Cecil he was then), who had been in charge of the 
Foreign Office while Balfour was in the United States, was “already almost as 
convinced a Zionist as Balfour” (Dugdale). Dr. Weizmann expounded to him in 
the Foreign Office the “objections to an Anglo-French division of Palestine, 
which he called a Solomon’s judgment of the worst kind” (Dugdale). No doubt 
they discussed this with entire seriousness, letting no thought intrude into their 
minds of what sort of a Solomon’s judgment was the greater division of the 
whole of Syria. 

Towards the end of April, according to Mrs. Dugdale, “the Foreign Office 
recognized with some dismay ” (my italics) “that the British Government was 
virtually committed.” But it is difficult to see how “the Foreign Office” can 
possibly have been dismayed by what the Foreign Minister found supremely 
encouraging. He returned home in June, delighted with the spread of the Zionist 
entanglement. In Washington he had proclaimed “1 am a Zionist,” and had 
come back to England “assured by his conversations with Brandeis, and by 
what he had learned from him of the President’s attitude, that there would be 
active sympathy there” (Dugdale). So it seems reasonable to assume that the 
dismay which Mrs. Dugdale attributes to the whole Foreign Office was 
confined to one or two of its members. Here at least is a further suggestion that 
in the said Office some men may have remembered the Arabs and our 
commitments to them. On the other hand the “conscience-group” may have 
been dissolved or dissipated by now and the dismay may have sprung only 
from fear that Lloyd George and Balfour were forcing the pace. 

Meanwhile, in Paris the counterpart of the Foreign Office, the Ministry of 
Foreign Affairs, also had espoused the Zionist cause. M. Cambon produced on 
behalf of his Government a note which spoke of the Allied Powers, “as a deed 
of justice and of reparation,” assisting by their protection “in the renaissance of 
the Jewish nationality in that land from which the people of Israel were exiled 
so many centuries ago.” 

This French recognition of Jewish nationalism in Palestine was cabled with 
exultation, need it be said, over the telegraph systems of the world. It was an 
obvious preliminary to a public pronouncement by the British Government, and 
the first formal step towards this was taken shortly after. Lord Rothschild and 
Dr. Weizmann called together on Lord Balfour at the Foreign Office and “put it 
to him that the time for a definite declaration of support and encouragement had 
come.” (Dugdale). 



How the “Balfour Declaration" was written. Its real authors — Tactics of Judge 
Brandeis — The “Brandeis regime” — Jewish opposition in England — Publication 
of the Declaration. 

The arrival of the two Zionist delegates at the Foreign Office with their plea 
for a declaration of British support was no suiprise of course to the Secretary of 
State. All the negotiations since February had tended to the sole end that Britain 
should adopt the Zionist cause publicly, and various formulas, such as that of 
the previous October, had been elaborated with this in view. The delegates’ 
visit to Lord Balfour and their request for a pronouncement therefore were so 
much stage -play. It was not that the time had come for him to issue a 
declaration, but that the time had come for him, in the Army phrase, to be 
issued with a declaration. Balfour knew his role in a performance so much after 
his own mind: he took his cue, and asked the visitors for “a draft that he would 
put before the War-Cabinet for sanction.” 

His Majesty’s Government, be it noted, was to define its policy in the 
forthcoming document. The Foreign Secretary’s way of setting about this was 
to ask Dr. Weizmann, and his honorary companion, to furnish him with a draft 
of this policy of His Majesty’s Government. As soon as he got it, Lord Balfour 
would put Dr. Weizmann’ s policy of His Majesty’s Government before His 
Majesty’s Government for approval. The walls of the Foreign Office without 
doubt have enclosed many a singular scene, but they might well have inclined 
together to hide from view the spectacle of a Secretary of State asking a visitor 
from Russia to give him a draft of his own Cabinet’s measures. The situation 
was what is called Gilbertian, or would have been so but for the great issues of 
national honesty involved. 

The Zionists at once set about preparing their draft out of their store of 
material. This was entrusted in August to a “Political Committee,” composed of 
members of the Zionist Organization. Some of them were residents in this 
country; others were from various Continental countries, but from time to time, 
as they visited England, they were gathered in to serve. On the Committee were 
Messrs. Achad Ha-Am, Cowen, Ettinger, Hyamson, Marks, Sieff, Leon Simon, 
Tolkowski, Jabotinski, Harry Sacher; and Mr. Landman was secretary. 

The names of these gentlemen are of great interest, since it was they, along 
with the noted leaders, who now (as far as Europe was concerned) set to work 
on framing what was to be known as the “Balfour Declaration.” We owe our 
acquaintance with their share in the work in the first instance to the Zionist 
Organization, which in a mood of vainglory disclosed transactions in its reports 
which Whitehall would have kept secret. 

Besides the above-mentioned collaborators, there were others who worked 
at the “Balfour Declaration,” in the United States. Reference has been made 
already to the importance of Zionism in the United States as a factor in this 

affair. But not half, not a quarter enough is known of the immixture of 
American Zionists in the conduct of policy by their Administration, as by the 
British Administration. In writing this book, my outstanding regret is that 1 
have not been in a position to cross the Atlantic to inquire into what happened 
in the political ante -rooms of the United States before the proclamation of the 
Balfour Declaration, and in particular into the circumstances under which 
President Wilson came to espouse the Zionist thesis. I do not mean by this that 
there is any reason for attack on the President’s good faith. Not at all. He erred, 
it is fairly clear, through ignorance of the far-off country whose fate he 
attempted to settle. There was an excusable side to his ignorance; it was not the 
wanton ignorance of Mr. Lloyd George nor the determined ignorance of Lord 
Balfour. When rumours of the real conditions in Syria came to him, the 
President was responsible for one act at least which goes far to absolve his 
memory. None the less, without a full understanding of what occurred in what 
may be called the Court circles of the White House, any account of the story of 
modern Palestine must remain incomplete. 

Some addition can be made, however, to what is known generally in this 
country concerning events in America, and it welds naturally into the tale of the 
few months which preceded the Declaration. It will be necessary with this aim 
to make a brief digression into past history before linking up again the 
American and European action in the summer of 1917. 

A good deal in the United States sphere turns on the action of Mr. Louis 
Brandeis, who at the time had become without doubt the most influential 
Zionist in the country. He was a lawyer of proved ability, whom President 
Wilson had wished to make Attorney-General in the year before the War; but 
this fell through. In 1916, though, he was appointed to the Bench of the United 
States Supreme Court. The President himself affirmed the closeness of his 
relations with Brandeis. “1 have tested him by seeking his advice,” declared 
Woodrow Wilson, “upon some of the most difficult and peiplexing public 
questions about which it was necessary for me to form a judgment.” (de Haas.) 

Brandeis indeed came next to Colonel House upon the double scale of 
friendship and of influence with the Chief of State. He had not been a Zionist 
from youth. His biographer, Mr. Jacob de Haas, had introduced Zionist 
doctrines to him in Boston, when he was already a prominent man. Brandeis 
made his first speech on behalf of the creed in 1913. “Early in the fall of 1914,” 
adds Mr. de Haas, “Brandeis perceived the identity of purpose in American 
idealism and Zionist aims. Hence he did not hesitate to approach President 
Wilson, who sympathized fully with Brandeis’ s Zionist views, and then 
proceeded to discuss the future of Palestine with the British and the French 
Ambassadors in Washington.” 

It may be said therefore that Zionism began as a world-force in the United 
States. It was elevated there to the rank of a national consideration considerably 
before this occurred in England. This is an instructive and little-known point. 

Palestine: The Reality 


Mr. de Haas goes on to give a curious piece of information. He says that Sir 
Cecil Spring-Rice, then our Ambassador in the United States, was already at 
that date in accord with the Zionist Palestinian policy. “He reported the British 
Government as favouring a programme for Jewish settlement in Palestine that 
was far more concrete than was later stipulated in the famous Balfour 

This talk of a “concrete programme” does not tally in the least with the 
attitude of Mr. Asquith, Prime Minister in the autumn of 1914. He had got no 
further along the Zionist road than to raise his eyebrows as he read Sir Herbert 
Samuel’s initial memorandum concerning it. Nor did he ever get any further. 
What then is the explanation? Either Mr. de Haas is quite wrong in his facts, or 
some plan for “Jewish settlement” was elaborated and sponsored by other 
members of our then Cabinet without the knowledge of the Prime Minister. 
This seems altogether outrageous, despite the chaotic conditions in Whitehall 
during those early months of the War, which have been described in Chapter 
VII. A possible explanation may be that in the course of Sir Edward Grey’s 
misty philanderings with the Zionist cause, some document from his chief 
reached the British Ambassador in Washington, and that by the time news of it 
had got through to the Zionist watchmen round the State Department and the 
White House, Grey’s feelers had been exaggerated into a “concrete 

Another, and perhaps likelier, explanation would be that the document in 
question had its origin not in London but in Washington. One of the Zionist 
programmes in circulation was sent to England, to the Foreign Office. Any 
expression of benignity towards it, reported back to Washington, and retailed 
from person to person, easily might be turned into a proposal to adopt it. 

What seems clear in any case is that a contact with political Zionism had 
been established by the British Embassy at Washington at the very beginning of 
the War. Nothing much appears to have come of it during 1915, but in the 
spring of 1916 the connection was resumed. The courting of the Zionists by our 
politicians was growing more definite: it was the moment of Grey’s 
extraordinary dispatch to Russia. Diplomatic discussions, according to Mr. de 
Haas, were resumed with President Wilson and with the British Ambassador. 
He details the conditions of the time which led to this resumption, but does not 
indicate who carried on the discussions upon the Zionist side. But the 
assurances received, “reduced to a six-line memorandum with the initials 
‘W.W.’ were wholly satisfactory,” he concludes. More knowledge of the six- 
line Presidential memorandum would be worth having, but we shall not be far 
from the truth in assuming that it was a pledge of support for the claims of Zion 
in Palestine, if and when the chance came to push them. 

Next year, with the entry of the United States into the War, the opportunity 
had come. President Wilson’s situation was predominant in Allied counsels. In 
May, even before the Balfour Mission came to America, he “took occasion to 

afford ample opportunity for the discussion of Zionist Palestinian projects, and 
the occasion was not neglected.” Again Mr. de Haas, from whom 1 continue to 
quote, might have been more explicit. (I think that I should explain that Mr. de 
Haas is one of the foremost Zionists of the United States. I do not agree with 
him, but I recognize in him a man anxious to expose the truth as he sees it, and 
to give facts. He takes his readers to the right door always, even if, as just 
above, he has a trick of only half opening the door for them. He played a 
principal part in the Anglo-Americano-Zionist pourparlers and is in a position 
therefore to give an authoritative account of what occurred.) 

The situation in the early spring, before Balfour arrived, was rather curious. 
I summarize Mr. de Haas’s account of it. The State Department, the United 
States Ministry of Foreign Affairs that is, was averse to a Declaration in favour 
of Zionist aims by Great Britain till both France and Italy should have chimed 
in. The President also, while determined to aid the Zionist cause, was opposed 
to a project of Balfour’s, which was high in the air at the time, that the United 
States should take over or should share with Great Britain the prospective 
suzerainty of Palestine. 

“Suzerain” was the word of the moment, figuring, as we have seen, in the 
various Zionist and other documents dealing with the future of Palestine. 
“Mandates” were not yet invented. What made the situation curious was that 
the United States were not at war with Turkey. “There was therefore some 
confusion for a time in the British Palestinian project [that is, confusion was 
produced by the project] which appeared to recognize the Suzerain 
Government. The belief that Turkey was to remain the Suzerain created 
considerable excitement, but after an exchange of heated and perplexing cables 
it was made manifest that the British by ‘Suzerain’ meant the United States, 
though they left a door open for themselves.” 

Thus Mr. de Haas. As far as the question of suzerainty went, Lord Balfour’s 
play with the idea of an Anglo-American condominium, or even an American 
stewardship, had been a diversion only. Neither of these ideas ever approached 
the sphere of practical politics. 

The much more important point springing from the confusion of mind in the 
United States about the identity of the forthcoming Suzerain is that it shows the 
alienation of all those concerned from the realities of Palestine. They knew 
nothing about it. Foremost in ignorance was Mr. Brandeis himself, who in a 
speech had declared that “Zionism was not a movement to wrest from the Turk 
the sovereignty of Palestine.” Since Brandeis, however he erred about 
Palestine, was in principle elsewhere a genuine democrat, it only shows how 
little he knew of Palestine, when he protested that he was not engaged in a 
movement to oust the Turks. He thought them to be the native occupants and 
inhabitants of the country, with natural rights to sovereignty, and evidently was 
as unaware of the Arabs as President Wilson was. Both the President and 

Palestine: The Reality 


Brandeis were to learn of the Arabs later on, and to profit by what they learned 
in then - different fashions. 

The next step in Zionist progress in the United States came with the arrival 
of Lord Balfour, who brought a considerable Mission with him. Some of the 
details of his stay there have already been given, but there are others to add. He 
and the members of his Mission found the whole Administration, except in 
some degree the more wary and knowledgeable State Department, thoroughly 
fecundated with the Zionist thesis. This was the work in the main of Mr. 
Brandeis. He was a great organizer, very much what is called the practical man. 
His doctrine was that Zionists should not merely hold meetings and write 
literature to spread their views. Zionists might do these things, but what was 
essential was that Zionists should make themselves useful in all the 
emergencies and in the novel situations which a state of war upon American 
territory created. They had the advantage of relations through kinsfolk all about 
the globe. This doctrine was not entirely propaganda, of course; there was a 
spirit of true philanthropy in Brandeis. But at the same time it was propaganda; 
superb propaganda. If a United States senator, or civil servant, or soldier, or 
consul, or simple citizen found that he could generally be helped in his 
difficulties by some active, intelligent man, and learned, sooner or later, that he 
was a Zionist, the senator or civil servant or whatever he was quite naturally 
concluded that this Zionist idea must be a good one. 

Mr. de Haas describes the Brandeis plan very clearly. To the defensive 
policy (of keeping the Zionist Organization clear of German influence, which 
was not so easy), “there was added,” says Mr. de Haas, “a constructive and 
novel aggressive policy. By freely rendering service to American officials the 
American Zionist Organization won the friendship and the goodwill of those 
who could not be influenced permanently by importunate effort. The objective 
was not merely to maintain the esteem and the willing co-operation of President 
Wilson himself, but to permeate every avenue of his Administration, and the 
whole British sendee in this country ” (my italics) “with a sympathetic 
understanding of Zionism.” 

Mr. de Haas had his own share in this campaign of useful usefulness. It was 
he who suggested to Brandeis the “Transfer Department,” for example. The 
“Transfer Department” took over the transport of funds from persons in the 
United States to their relatives in the European and extra-European war-zones. 
Here is its author’s description of it: 

The Transfer Department served Jew and non-Jew alike, without cost 
to sender or recipient, and its ramifications extended through all the war- 
zones occupied by the Allies, and throughout Turkey, Syria, Palestine, to 
Trans-Jordan and Baghdad. It became a department that sought and 
found people worlds asunder. It safely delivered money under romantic 
circumstances and often at considerable risk to the messenger. Practically 
not a cent of the millions handled was lost. Starting by using the good 
Palestine: The Reality 

offices of the U.S. Department of State (Foreign Office) as a means of 
communication and deposit, it became so successful and so reliable that 
it was employed by the Treasury of the United States to deliver moneys 
and messages which the Government could not handle successfully. 

An Arab in Boston desired to send a few dollars to a friend in Petra. 

A Greek in Terre Haute, Indiana, wanted to befriend someone in 
Anatolia. The Greek Church in the U.S.A. wanted to reach the 
Metropolitan in Constantinople. Jews wanted to help their families in 
Poland. Chadissim forced out of Jerusalem were located in the refugee- 
camps in Alexandria. Money collected in America found its way into the 
prison at Damascus, into the detention-camp at Aleppo, and even reached 
the prisoners at Broussa. For a time the green receipt of the Z.P.E.C. 
(Zionist Provisional Executive Committee, of which Mr. Brandeis was 
Chairman) Transfer Department was “current money with the 
merchants” throughout Palestine, and thus set at naught the Turkish 
decision to close the Zionist banks. . . . Perhaps the senders appreciated 
what was done for them at no cost, perhaps afterwards some of them 
learned how gold was carried through the Taurus passes. This Transfer 
Department in its non-sectarian service was unique in Jewish history. 
The rank and file of Zionists probably never gave it a thought, but 
governments knew. They appreciated the endless improvisations in 
transmission which the changing war-front demanded, to the point that 
Embassies in European capitals advanced cash on the requisition of the 
Executive Secretary in New York. 

These details given by Mr. de Haas speak for themselves. The “Transfer 
Department” was part of a general scheme which in itself was admirable. No 
one would wish to deny it the praise it deserves for its serviceableness to great 
and to small, for the humanity of its concept, and for the ability of its execution. 
But — as Mr. de Haas himself is at pains to show — it brought in its own rewards 
to the organization which created it. It put the United States Governmental 
machine, and in part the governmental machine of Allied countries, in a 
situation of moral debt to Zionism. It created an enormous predisposition in 
favour of the Zionist cause among a great many people, and particularly among 
those whose sympathy Zionism was likely to be valuable. 

Zionism [says Mr. de Haas] numbered its adherents in every 
American city. This vast army of humans was gradually inventoried, and 
as the need arose employed to render those services which in war time 
aroused the goodwill and the respect of those men whose signatures 
counted in great affairs. The cost of all such services, an infinitesimal 
amount, was paid by the Zionist organization. The returns were in a form 
of reliance on the capacity for performance which created wide 
confidence in the movement. 

That is to say, to recast the somewhat involved final sentence, “men whose 
signatures counted” saw what Zionists could do, and gave their trust to a 
movement created by such capable men. Mr. de Haas cites, as an example of 
eventual guerdon, 1 the privileges extended to the American Zionist Medical 
Unit, when it sailed for Palestine, which put it on a par with the American Red 
Cross organization. The passports of this Unit were stamped officially with the 
“Shield of David.” Thus a national-international status was conferred on the 
Zionist symbol. How was this achieved? Not alone through friendship in the 
highest circles, be it noted. 

The open sesame which made such a combined act possible could not 
come from above. To the contrary, the task was accomplished from the 
ground up, and was only possible because under the Brandeis method of 
arousing individual interest in the cause, an appreciation of Zionism 
penetrated every Government department, and wherever needed there 
was an understanding Zionist ready to smooth and cement the necessary 
contacts. (My italics.) 

As the Departments involved included the War Department, the Treasury, 
the Passport Division, the Navy and the Army, it will be seen how far Zionism 
held the passes in the United States. What chance had the Arabs in such a 
situation? How little they knew by the far Red Sea of the influences assembling 
to deny them their patrimony and to conceal their very existence. 

1 return to the active preparations for the “declaration of support and 
encouragement.” In Washington, in that spring of 1917, Lord Balfour and his 
Mission fitted well into the Zionized Administration. Balfour “while in 
Washington summarized his own attitude in a single sentence, ‘I am a 
Zionist’.” (He and Mr. Brandeis conferred, as we have seen.) “But while 
Balfour and Brandeis met as often as circumstances demanded, other Zionists 
met and discussed the Palestine problem with all those members of the British 
Mission whose understanding it was thought desirable to cultivate.” (de Haas.) 

Balfour returned home with a thoroughly cultivated Mission, gave his 
formal interview to Dr. Weizmann and Lord Rothschild, and the drafting of the 
Declaration began on both sides of the Atlantic. In England “many different 
versions of the suggested formula were drafted by various members of the 
(Zionist) Political Committee.” (Zionist Official Report.) Drafts went back and 
forth to the Foreign Office. 

They also went back and forth over the ocean. “A considerable number of 
drafts were made in London and transmitted to the United States, through War 
Office channels, for the use of the American Zionist Political Committee.” (de 
Haas.) President Wilson himself lent a hand to the drafting, or at least bent a 
supervising eye upon the text of the suggestions from England. “The field of 

1 [] 
Palestine: The Reality 

international discussion was accordingly widened, and all the drafts of the 
proposed Declaration were submitted for approval to the White House.” (Wise 
& de Hass.) 

Most of these earlier drafts were on the lines of the proposed Charter of the 
Jewish Company; of the War- Aims statement, Zionist in origin of course, 
issued in the previous April; of the October programme, and so forth. Generally 
they were elaborations, and the Government found them too long. “Some of the 
Zionist drafts were detailed and elaborate,” says the Report of that 
Organization, “but the Government did not want to commit itself to more than a 
general statement of principle.” Still apparently quite unable to produce such a 
statement itself, the Government set its Zionist prompters to work on a shorter 

The new general statement of principle was tabulated quickly. On July 18th, 
after it had been approved by President Wilson, Lord Rothschild forwarded the 
Balfour Declaration to Lord Balfour and all seemed finished. These were its 

His Majesty’s Government, after considering the aims of the Zionist 
Organization accepts the principle of recognizing Palestine as the 
National Home of the Jewish people and the right of the Jewish people to 
build up its National life in Palestine under a protection to be established 
at the conclusion of Peace, following upon the successful issue of the 

His Majesty’s Government regards as essential for the realization of 
this principle the grant of internal autonomy to the Jewish nationality in 
Palestine, freedom of immigration for Jews, and the establishment of a 
Jewish National Colonizing Corporation for the resettlement and 
economic development of the country. 

The conditions and forms of the internal autonomy and a charter for 
the Jewish National Colonizing Coiporation should, in the view of His 
Majesty’s Government, be elaborated in detail and determined with the 
representatives of the Zionist Organization. 

This was the Declaration which Mr. Lloyd George and Lord Balfour would 
have issued, be it observed, but for something which now happened. It was the 
intention of the Government to recognize all Palestine as the National Home, 
and to give “internal autonomy” to the Jewish nationality from the start. Zionist 
immigrants were to land as rulers. Immigration was to be free, without obstacle, 
and the Chartered Company or Chartered Corporation, as it had become, was to 
“resettle” the country, as though it were empty. 

But all was not finished. The above draft had been shown round a good deal 
by then, so that it had come to the knowledge of the chief personages of English 


Men like Lucien Wolf or Claud Montefiore or Sir Matthew Nathan had not 
been asked of course to take part in writing it themselves. They knew, though, 
that it was being prepared, and after they had procured its text they repeated 
their struggle of the spring. They sent to the Cabinet “representations 
antagonistic to Zionism.” That is how the Zionists describe the signatories’ 
protest against the proposed Declaration. 

The result was that the Cabinet had the Declaration redrafted. The Chartered 
Company disappeared, though a reason for this may have been that its 
promoters found difficulty in raising adequate funds to launch it. 

The new formula was: 

1) His Majesty’s Government accepts the principle that Palestine 
should be reconstituted as the national home of the Jewish people. 

2) His Majesty’s Government will use its best endeavours to secure 
the achievement of this object and will discuss the necessary methods 
and means with the Zionist Organization. 

This was ready on September 18th, after two months of negotiations and 
exchanges of views with various parties. It was approved by President Wilson. 
But the British Jews who had opposed its predecessor fought as resolutely as 
ever against the new version. This still handed over all Palestine for 
“reconstitution” to the Zionist Organization, and under the second clause 
autonomy and free immigration and the other provisions of the July text could 
be introduced at once. 

Edwin Montagu, Sir Philip Magnus and their associates in British Jewry by 
the stand they made enjoy the everlasting credit of having prevented either of 
these Balfour Declarations, of July or September, from being issued. It is a rider 
of importance upon the character of political Zionism that it was Jews who 
prevented it from carrying out the arbitrary seizure of Palestine which it 
intended. The Arabs therefore owe a great debt to these upright Jews. 

What stands out most, though, is that but for their action the British 
Government too would have handed over Palestine to the Zionist Organization. 
In both formulas the Government passed the Arabs by completely, as though 
they did not exist. Here therefore is an absolute answer to the countless 
subsequent protestations during twenty years that the British Government 
never, never intended to put Palestine into Zionist hands. These protestations 
are falsehoods. Mr. Lloyd George, Lord Balfour and their confederates in the 
matter did so intend. Here is the documentary proof of it. 

But now, faced once more with the difficulty of issuing on behalf of Jews a 
document against which Jews fought might and main, the Prime Minister and 
the Foreign Secretary were driven to have the Declaration remodelled again. A 
new draft was prepared. It was sent to Dr. Weizmann, M. Sokolov, Sir Philip 
Magnus, Mr. Montefiore, Sir Stuart Samuel, Mr. Leonard Cohen and to the 
Chief Rabbi (Dr. Hertz), with a request for their opinions upon it in writing. Mr. 

Landman speaks of this as a move upon which a great deal hung, but it is hard 
to believe this. The Government knew that a majority of those consulted would 
be in favour of the new draft, which, if not all that previous drafts had been, yet 
remained satisfactory to the political Zionists, who, as will be seen, had their 
usual part in its compilation. 

In the new draft Palestine was no longer mentioned as the National Home of 
the Jewish people: instead the Government signified its desire to establish “a 
National Home for the Jewish people” in Palestine. A vast deal of printers’ ink 
and a vast deal of speakers’ breath has been wasted upon the exact significance 
of this change of formula. All that it signified in fact was a lack of courage on 
the part of the Governmental persons involved. Confronted with Jewish 
opposition, they took fright at announcing that they would patronize the turning 
of Palestine en bloc and at once into a Jewish National Home. They decided to 
announce their patronage only of a first instalment of this process. They 
suffered no change of heart: they did not reconsider their position in the light of 
the McMahon-Hussein Treaty: they made no effort to consult any Arab 
representatives or to preconize as essential and to promise such a consultation 
as soon as it should be possible. They went on with their illegitimate deal, but 
they phrased it differently and began to develop it more warily. 

The men who had forced them to this more cautious action were not 
deceived. Mr. Leonard Cohen, the Chairman of the Jewish Board of Guardians, 
Mr. Montefiore and Sir Philip Magnus, who was Member of Parliament for 
London University, continued to protest on behalf of British Jewry. One of their 
chief objections was to the maintenance in the text of the word “National.” 
They were quite right in this, of course, for the retention of the “National” 
qualification was of paramount importance. “National” was a key -word. For 
Jews to have not a social or religious home, but a “National Home,” meant that 
the germ of the future Jewish State in Palestine was implanted in the formula. 
Also the attribution of a national quality to the so-called “Home” extricated the 
Jews who formed it from allegiance to any State founded upon the popular 
suffrage of all denizens of Syria or of any section of Syria. 

Zionist apologists of all shades do not pay much attention to this point. They 
prefer to sheer away from the clear implications of the maintenance of 
“National” in the new draft, and to lose themselves in empty dialectic upon the 
different effect of a definite or an indefinite article in front of that word, upon 
the rival meanings of “a National home” and “the National home.” But there is 
no reason at all for the reader who wishes to get to the bottom of the business to 
waste his time upon Lord Balfour’s little Janus-faced parts of speech. 

Despite the efforts of Sir Philip Magnus and his friends, this key-word 
“National” was kept in succeeding drafts by the Government. The political 
Zionists insisted upon it and so, for the matter of that, did their supporters in the 
Cabinet. But the opposition did not give up battle. A staunch advocate and 
leader was found in Mr. Edwin Montagu, who, as Secretary for India, could put 

Palestine: The Reality 


the case to the Cabinet itself. Faced with Balfour’s just quoted July draft, or 
rather the Zionist draft Balfour patronized, he had “opened his offensive in late 
August with a memorandum of passionate protest.” (Dugdale.) What is more, 
he carried the day. For a brief period the Government of Great Britain was 
about to drop its pro-Zionist policy. 

We have the testimony of Mrs. Dugdale for this. “The Cabinet,” she says, 
“was more than shaken, for on September 24th, Balfour replied to a grumble” 
(against the delay) “made by one of his own F.O. people, ‘Yes. But as the 
question was (in my absence) decided by the Cabinet against the Zionists 1 
cannot do anything till the decision is reversed.’ ” 

As his niece points out, Balfour was in no doubt about being able to have 
the decision reversed. The conditions under which the Cabinet met then will 
have helped him, quite apart from his own power. The meetings of the War- 
Cabinet were very variably attended. Balfour himself was not a member, but 
had been invited by Mr. Lloyd George to come as often as he liked. He 
attended by deputy sometimes: he or his deputy were present at four-fifths of 
the meetings. General Smuts also had a free invitation to be present that 
summer. Regular members were the Prime Minister, Lords Curzon and Milner, 
Messrs. Bonar Law and Henderson, Sir Edward Carson. Sittings were very 
numerous; every morning, and on occasion even two or three times a day. A lot 
of other people often were present, since members of the War-Cabinet could 
bring in departmental officials and experts to give testimony or advice. 
Sometimes the business before the Cabinet was decided there and then by all its 
members, but the business might equally well be left for individual members to 
submit a decisive report upon it, or might be left for settlement to a committee. 
Everyone was at the highest tension and very overworked. 

Montagu had prevailed at some gathering of this loose assemblage. It was 
not difficult for Balfour to turn the tables when Montagu was out of the way. 
Montagu, unfortunately for Palestine, had to depart on the 14th of October on a 
pre-arranged voyage to India in connection with the reforms which bear his 
name. Of the other members, besides Balfour, Smuts, Milner and Henderson 
(and Barnes who succeeded Henderson) were all pro-Zionist. “Lloyd George, 
the Premier, bluntly stated that he could not understand the anti-Zionist Jews. 
Mr. Balfour, General Smuts, Lord Milner and Mr. Barnes, the representative of 
Labour, were all frankly in favour of a declaration, and naturally they too were 
peiplexed by the attitude of the Jewish opposition.” (de Haas.) No doubt Mr. 
Lloyd George was blunt, but I doubt whether he failed to understand the anti- 
Zionist Jews’ arguments. What he will not have understood was their allowing 
their feelings to interfere with the grasping of a ripe opportunity, full of 
political dividends. It is characteristic enough of this extraordinary politician, 
who always has been saving his country on Monday and ruining her on 
Tuesday, that he could entrust to Mr. Montagu’s ability the most far-reaching 
changes of policy in our Eastern Empire, while he could refuse to listen to his 

advice upon a subject to which Montagu brought this same ability and in 
addition every endowment of blood and of experience. 

In 1923, at his house in London, Edwin Montagu spoke to me himself at 
some length upon the way in which the pro-Zionist declaration was pushed 
through by the Prime Minister and Lord Balfour. It was a personal 
conversation, much on the lines of that which I had with Asquith, but longer 
and fuller, and it was Montagu himself who asked me to visit him. He said that 
not the slightest consideration was given to our previous pledges to the Arabs. 
The whole question was treated as a close preserve between Great Britain and 
the Zionists. 

Nothing was thrashed out properly. As the autumn came on, members of the 
Cabinet were overwhelmed with their several duties and with the general crisis 
of the time, when the Allies’ fortunes were at a very low ebb indeed. There was 
a marked disposition for each Minister to stick to his particular province and to 
accept the word of the others upon theirs. The Premier and Balfour tried to push 
the Zionist project briskly through, both of them possessed with an idee fixe. 
Up to the time of his departure for India, said Mr. Montagu, the terms of the 
Declaration and its consequences had never been properly analysed by all 
members of the Cabinet, and certainly had not been grasped by the non-partisan 
members after a fashion which would enable them to hold out against then pro- 
Zionist colleagues. Even so, some resistance or some doubt did survive in the 
Cabinet, chiefly through Lord Curzon, and this was reinforced by the continued 
Anglo-Jewish opposition outside. Curzon was unconvinced by political 
Zionism. Towards the end of October he penned a memorandum on Palestine in 
which he detailed a policy there such as Lucien Wolf had set forth, by which all 
creeds would be secured in peaceable possession of their Holy Places, all 
individuals secured in equal rights, and “some scheme for land-purchase and 
for the settlement of returning Jews might be undertaken.” 

“If this be Zionism,” wrote Lord Curzon, “there is no reason why we should 
not all be Zionists, and I should gladly give my adhesion to such a policy. But 
in my judgment it is a policy very widely removed from the romantic and 
idealistic aspirations of many of the Zionist leaders whose literature I have 
studied, and whatever it does, it will not in my judgment provide either a 
national nor material nor even a spiritual home for any more than a small 
section of the Jewish people.” 

This shows that Lord Curzon’ s attitude was somewhat entangled. He 
thought that the demerit of the policy of which he approved was that it did not 
embrace many Jews. He did not approve, though, of “romantic” political 
Zionism, which did embrace many. His position is complex. His opposition to 
the Declaration evidently was not on the strongest grounds, and he gave way at 

He may have been forced to give way. In the end, as the pronouncement 
went on hanging fire, the Zionists lost patience or grew disturbed and brought 

Palestine: The Reality 


pressure to bear through the United States. “The leverage for forcing action was 
in the United States,” says Mr. de Haas, and again, “Dr. Weizmann looked for 
American support to counteract the opposition in London, where the political 
situation was somewhat disconcerting.” Hints were given to the British 
Government (not for the first time) that Zionism might be driven into the arms 
of the enemy. A final memorandum asking for the Declaration was handed to 
Lord Balfour by Lord Rothschild and Dr. Weizmann. This suggested that 

the problem be considered in the light of imperial interests and of the 
principles for which the Entente stands. . . . We therefore now humbly 
pray that this declaration may be granted to us, and this would enable us 
to further consolidate Jewish public opinion in the Entente countries to 
counteract all the demoralizing influence which the enemy Press is 
endeavouring to exercise by holding out vague promises to the Jews, (de 
Haas and Wise). 

The italics are mine. Other pro-Zionist testimony (given to me myself in 
1923) is more explicit still. It was considered that in an article of mine I was not 
doing justice to Dr. Weizmann’ s services to the Allies (which indeed 1 do not 
think of questioning), and 1 was informed that at the juncture under 
consideration he “by his personal intervention turned the Zionist scale to the 
side of the Allies and defeated a standing German offer which at the time was 
being considered seriously by the non-Allied branches of the Zionist 

It was after the above warnings and the Rothschild-Weizmann ultimo- 
memorandum, so to speak, that the American influence was brought to bear 
decisively. Writers to the Zionist signet deal with this last stage in different 
ways. Mr. Leonard Stein confines himself to saying that “there was some delay 
before a public statement was formally approved by the Cabinet,” though of an 
earlier phase he mentions that “when the hour of decision was reached in the 
middle of 1917 the President supported the Zionists with the full weight of his 

Mr. Philip Graves puts it that, “Finally the negotiations came to a successful 
issue, owing in part to the intervention of President Wilson, who had been 
approached by Mr. Justice Brandeis, one of the best-known American 
Zionists.” The official Zionist Report, compiled in Europe in an atmosphere 
jealous of the increasing American control, says that the President sent “a 
personal message to the British Government, intimating his agreement with the 
idea of a pro-Zionist announcement.” 

We must turn to Messrs. Wise and de Haas for genuine knowledge of what 
occurred. Mr. de Haas’s individual version is: “The American ascendancy in 
the war-councils led the British to ask for President Wilson’s consent and 
approval of the terminology of the declaration before its issuance. The draft 

cabled from Government to Government was handed to the Brandeis regime for 
its approval .” (My italics.) 

No bettering is possible of the phrase found by the author to describe at once 
those who then managed the President and the character (as regards Palestine) 
of the Administration — ’’the Brandeis regime.” The text sent by the British 
Cabinet for approval in these quarters was thus worded: 

The Cabinet after preliminary discussion suggest the following 
amended formula — His Majesty’s Government view with favour the 
establishment in Palestine of a National Home for the Jewish race and 
will use its best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it 
being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice 
the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in 
Palestine or the rights and the political status enjoyed in any other 
country by such Jews who [s/c] 1 are fully contented with their existing 
nationality and citizenship. 

This was passed to the Brandeis regime, which was not satisfied with the 
finish of the British version — in the small degree that this multigenerate 
mixture was British. Mr. Wise and Mr. de Haas subjected it, in their own 
words, “to the most necessary revision.” In the view of the members of the 
regime it placed Zionism “on a principle of discontent, which is most 
undesirable.” “They therefore proposed to Colonel House on October 15th to 
limit the final clause to read ‘or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews 
in any other country’.” “The final draft,” they explain in their joint work, The 
Great Betrayal, “was amended by the authors of this book. After consultation 
with Justice Brandeis it was submitted to Colonel House, who transmitted this 
version to President Wilson, upon whose agreement and express authority the 
final text was issued by the British War Cabinet.” 

It was on the 17th of October that Wilson cabled his approval of this text as 
amended by Messrs. Wise and de Haas. By now, the character of the 
declaration should be clear enough for anybody. The Declaration was not only 
in England based upon Zionist drafts, but the American share in it, what is 
called the “American share” under the assumption that it was the work of the 
President or of his Ministers, was also Zionist work. Mr. Wilson and Colonel 
House were but automata signing or transmitting ex-parte texts, which were 
given all the prestige which should have been attached only to the independent 
pronouncements of the President and Administration of the United States. 

With this edifying state of things the story of the immediate origins of the 
Declaration and of the circumstances of its issue comes to an end. In London 
the word “race” was changed to “people”: the de Haas-Wise alterations were 
accepted. There was a fortnight’s delay before the pronouncement appeared on 

Palestine: The Reality 

1 [“. . . such Jews as are. . .” -Ed.] 


the Cabinet’s agenda. On the 2nd of November the final scene of all was 

Some of the Zionist leaders must have been waiting in an adjoining chamber 
on that day, for the event, as Mr. Landman records, was announced by Sir Mark 
Sykes (who later was to regret his part in all this). He came excitedly out of the 
Cabinet Room, and ejaculated very appropriately to the group of assembled 
fathers, “It’s a boy.” 

Officially, the product of polyandry was dispatched in the form of a letter 
from the Foreign Secretary to Lord Rothschild, as follows: 

Foreign Office, 

November 2nd, 1917. 

Dear Lord Rothschild, 

1 have much pleasure in conveying to you on behalf of His Majesty’s 
Government the following declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist 
aspirations, which has been submitted to and approved by the Cabinet. 

His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in 
Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best 
endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly 
understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and 
religious rights of existing non -Jewish communities in Palestine or the 
rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country. 

1 should be grateful if you would bring this Declaration to the 
knowledge of the Zionist Federation. 

Yours sincerely, 

Arthur James Balfour. 

Nothing more cynically humorous than the final couple of lines of this letter 
has ever been penned. 1 


Analysis of the Balfour Declaration — its sham character and deceptive 

There is a great deal which has to be said now concerning the Declaration 
which, like water seeking its source, came to the Zionist leaders on that 2nd of 
November in 1917. But the first thing of all to be said of the Balfour 
Declaration is that it was a pronouncement which was weighed to the last 
pennyweight before it was issued. There are but sixty-seven words in it, and 
each of these, save perhaps the Government’s title and a few innocent 
conjunctions, was considered at length before it was passed into text 

1 [And which is the chapter’s title, saved for the final sentence.] 
Palestine: The Reality 

This too memorable document is not so much a sentence of English as a 
verbal mosaic. Drafts for it travelled back and forth, within England or over the 
Ocean, to be scrutinized by some two score draftsmen half co-operating, half 
competing with one another, who erased this phrase or adopted that after much 
thought. At long last, out of the store of their rejections and of their acceptances 
the final miscellany was chosen, ratified and fixed. There never has been a 
proclamation longer prepared, more carefully produced, more consciously 

Commentators of all views agree upon this. In his Zionism Mr. Leonard 
Stein says, “The Balfour Declaration was by no means a casual gesture. It was 
issued after prolonged deliberations as a considered statement of policy.” In 
Temperley’s History of the Peace Conference of Paris, it is stated that “before 
the British Government gave the Declaration to the world, it had been closely 
examined in all its bearings and implications, and subjected to repeated change 
and amendment.” M. Nahum Sokolov, in his History of Zionism, another 
fundamental work, writes that “every idea bom in London was tested by the 
Zionist Organization in America, and every suggestion in America received the 
most careful attention in London.” “The Balfour Declaration was in process of 
making for nearly two years,” writes Mr. Wise, who indeed was in a position to 
know. “Its authorship was not solitary but collective.” Mr. Lloyd George 
himself, speaking in Wales in 1930, assured his hearers, in curious terms, that 
the Declaration “was prepared after much consideration, not merely of its 
policy but of its actual wording.” 

So there is one point upon which there is no doubt. Whatever is to be found 
in the Balfour Declaration was put into it deliberately. There are no accidents in 
that text. If there is any vagueness in it this is an intentional vagueness. If it is 
vague, the admiral is vague who orders his destroyers to emit a smoke-screen. 

It is most important to have this established before more is said, for the 
reason that for some time past the controversy concerning Palestine, in so far as 
the Declaration is concerned, has been given a false turn. A secondary apologia 
has been evolved, which by-passes the bona fides of Lord Balfour’s 
pronouncement to concentrate upon its terminology. It is described as 
“uncertainly phrased,” or as “containing implications not foreseen when it was 
written,” or as “not so definite as was thought”; or contrariwise it is said that 
“too much has been read into it.” 

Behind this apologia often enough there may have lain a good intention. The 
Balfour Declaration, alas! has been made by a series of our Governments the 
pedestal of British policy in Palestine. Because of this a number of persons 
have reasoned that the Declaration must be accepted as it stands, “with all its 
imperfections.” Scrutiny of it might reveal that it was written in bad faith. But 
to expose bad faith in the Declaration would be the same as exposing it in the 
conduct of the country itself, since one Government of Great Britain published 
it and subsequent Governments have confirmed it. The people who have shrunk 


from scrutinizing it may not have put their thoughts to themselves as starkly as 
that, but it was thus they did think in their hearts’ recesses. Therefore, as they 
conceived, the only course which lay open to them, if the country’s honour was 
to be saved, was to assume that the Declaration had been loosely composed, 
and to lead the controversy on to that ground. They made great show of riddling 
out what it meant, with a little deprecatory criticism thrown in. 

In this way they could escape perhaps having to acknowledge that this 
nationally issued and nationally endorsed document was nothing but a calmly 
planned piece of deception. That is why for years past we have heard statesmen, 
publicists and politicians, and members of the public too, assert that the authors 
of the Declaration either did not mean what they appear to say in it, or did not 
succeed in saying in it what they meant. Other apologists have given their own 
interested versions of its meaning. In this order were the explanations of Mr. 
Winston Churchill, as intricate and as lasting as worm-casts in the sand. 

Behind excuses and shifts of the kind there may lie, in this way, something 
of good intention. But it is an intention deplorably translated into practice, and 1 
am not going to follow the example thus set. Since the Balfour Declaration was 
without excuse, I see no reason to excuse it. There is no pleasure in taking such 
a course (as I have said before now): there is no relish in exposing one’s 
country or in exposing at least the men who spoke in her name. But the world 
of 1939 has no room for displays of patriotic cowardice. Nor is there any sort of 
advantage in them. We want an England which can confess her sins, and 
thereafter take her place at the head of the nations in the strength of her cleared 

With this borne in mind, let us return to the Declaration. It reached the 
general public on the 9th of November, when Lord Balfour’s letter was 
reproduced in the newspapers. It was given forth, of course, under the guise of 
an entirely British communication embodying an entirely British conception. 
Everyone concerned was made the victim of this false pretence. The British 
people were given to believe that it was an unadulterated product of their own 
Government. To the mass of Jews it was presented as a guarantee sprung of 
nothing but the conscience of the Cabinet — and thereby it served to allure them 
towards political Zionism. As for the Arabs, when it was proclaimed eventually 
upon their soil (which was not till much later), to them too a text in which 
Zionists of all nationalities had collaborated was announced as the voice of 
Britain. They were told that it was a pledge made to the Zionists: they were not 
told that the Zionists had written most of it. They were asked to respect it on the 
ground that it was given to the world by the British Government out of its 
native magnanimity, after the said Government had extended its profound, 
solitary and single-minded consideration to the “problem of Palestine.” 

Let me be quite clear about this. The onus of deception does not lie upon the 
Government of 1917 because before issuing its Declaration it consulted the 
Zionists. As far as the mere form of the proposed pronouncement went (leaving 

aside other considerations), the Zionists could have been asked quite reasonably 
to submit their ideas upon the species of “support and encouragement” for 
which they hoped. The Government could have examined whatever the Zionists 
submitted, and have consulted further with them, till both had agreed upon a 
final text. Had this text been published for what it was, an agreement between 
the two parties which the British Government was willing to sponsor, then the 
form of the Declaration would have been blameless. The form would have been 
honest, even if the policy was indefensible. 

When however the bipartite Declaration — and to call it bipartite even is to 
swell the Governmental share in its drafting — was given out as the composition 
of His Majesty’s Government alone, a plain deception was committed. In 
subsequent years too these synthetic ipsissima verba have been paraded with 
unyielding obstinacy to the Arabs as a sacred obligation of Great Britain to the 
Jews, even after it had been disclosed that all the time various Zionists had 
themselves framed the obligation to themselves. This makes later Governments 
partakers in the deception of the 1917 Cabinet, a deception only mitigated by 
culpable ignorance in the case of certain members of these Governments. 

The Zionists themselves are in a better position in the matter than their 
British collaborators are. To do them justice, it was they who made known the 
real conditions under which the Declaration was composed. They did so after 
an interval which I cannot give exactly, since I have not read all Zionist 
publications and writings that ever were. But the Zionist Organization certainly 
had divulged its share in the Declaration within four years of its publication, 
and for all I know this may have been divulged earlier. I shall not say that the 
motives of the Zionist Organization were of the first rank. Everything seemed 
to be going swimmingly for their cause then and some members or other of the 
Organization staff could not resist gathering kudos in the eyes of the mass of 
Zionist supporters by disclosing the important part which their body behind the 
scenes had taken in the Declaration. Still, their statement was a frank one. 

And now to analyse the text of the Declaration. “His Majesty ’s Government 
view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the 
Jewish people. ...” This first clause is often printed with the words “national 
home” with capital initials. But in the original copy, as reproduced in The 
Times, Lord Balfour used the discreeter apparel of what printers call “lower- 
case” letters for his protege. Neither he nor his colleagues can claim the 
invention of this title, which has been imagined by Leon Pinsker in Odessa 
thirty-five years before. Pinsker himself did not intend it to apply to Palestine. 
He said, “We must not attach ourselves to the place where our political life was 
once violently interrupted” (Stein), though he did his best to establish colonies 
there as elsewhere. But Balfour and his colleagues adopted the title from the 
Zionist programmes and drafts, and made use of its ambiguity. For most people 
in 1917 “National Home,” with or without capitals, was a new phrase. 

Palestine: The Reality 


Naturally no one could give it a meaning, for it had no established meaning, 
and was put into practice in Palestine without one. 

But in a formal document announcing the support of the British Government 
for this institution, it was indicated by all rules of statesmanship that ere 
committing itself to such support, the Government should define for the nation 
what exactly it was supporting. Not to do so was to pledge (without touching on 
the right to give a pledge) the aid of Great Britain for no one could say what. 
The same culpable lack of definition was to be found in the preamble, wherein 
the Declaration was described as “a declaration of sympathy with Jewish 
Zionist aspirations,” but no clue was supplied to these desires. What were 
Jewish Zionist aspirations? They were not identified. How could a British 
Government guarantee its sympathy to an enigma? 

The truth of course is that these unfathomable phrases were employed just 
because they were unfathomable and could be interpreted to pleasure. They had 
the air of promising Government support of what the Zionists wanted in 
Palestine, a Jewish State, to be reached through a fictitious condominium of 
Jew and Arab. This was the meaning which the Zionists who helped to draw up 
the Declaration accepted in the end, and this was the meaning which Zionists 
and Jews in general were given to understand the Declaration would hold. They 
were disappointed no doubt that they did not receive full ruling rights 
immediately. But they were confident that they could engender conditions in 
Palestine involving a more rapid finish for the transition period than might be 
expected. The Government on its part did mean to give as much of the Zionists’ 
sense to the Declaration as was safe, from the very start. As the margin of 
safety grew, as its own hold on the land became stronger, as a menial prosperity 
enticed the mass of Arabs, and the opposition of the remainder had been 
measured and met, then the Government would increase its support of the 
Zionist establishment in widening degrees, till the Jewish State at last arose. 

On the other hand, the Government kept a way of retreat open in case some 
formidable opposition, in Britain or outside, might make headway against 
official alliance with political Zionism. In that event, the Declaration was 
phrased so that it could be explained away as nothing but an expression of 
unengaged, friendly interest in the Zionist movement. If it came to that, what 
did “view with favour” amount to as a gage of support? Pretty little. It could be 
taken to signify no more than that the Government would cast a benign eye 
upon the “national home,” pleased if the Zionist plans worked out, regretful but 
quite unimplicated if they failed. 

To sum up: the paths of the Government and of Zionism had crossed: the 
Government had liked the wanderer’s look: the pair had dallied, and then they 
had agreed to walk on together. So far so good. But if trouble arose on the way 
before home was reached, well, the path which the Government had crossed the 
Government, in a manner of speaking, could cross again. The final drafting of 
the Declaration was a great play of wits, in fact. The opposition to the previous 

drafts had brought it home to the Government that it must be more careful. So 
in the final draft, while still conceding everything to the Zionists in its own 
intent, the Government achieved a wording which would allow it an exit, if 
needs were, from any definite obligation of any kind. In this the Governmental 
drafters outwitted the Zionist drafters, who thought that they had the 
Government securely tied up. The Government was anxious for these ties, 
which it had invited, but it preferred now to draft so that even they could be 
slipped in the last resort. All first-class chicanery, but how far fitting in a 
Declaration by Great Britain is another matter. 

In the succeeding clause the same dubious skilfulness prevails as in the first. 
The Government “will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of 
this object .” What is to be understood of this facilitation? To “facilitate” may 
signify to lend a hand, actively, but also it may just as well signify to put no 
hand in the way, passively. The sentence in fact is composed upon the same 
lines as its predecessor, that is, it covers the private intention of giving active 
help, provides a public screen of passive interest, and in the last resort contains 
a way out. As in the preceding sentence the situation of the Zionist drafters was 
that they considered that the nucleus of their special intentions was contained in 
the words used. 

However, it is not till we reach the third and final clause of the Balfour 
Declaration that its character is quite revealed. “. . . it being clearly understood 
that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of 
existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine or the rights and political status 
enjoyed by Jews in any other country .” 

The first part of this clause is the supposed “safeguard” of the Arabs of 
Palestine, which protects them from Zionist encroachment. As far as protection 
goes, I am reminded of the experience of a relative. When about to land from a 
ship in a lonely corner of some docks in a distant country, he was warned to 
take very little money with him and, above all, “to beware of the police.” A 
similar warning applies to this “protective” clause. 

At first sight it does not seem so craftily phrased as the earlier clauses. The 
will-to-deceive in it is so patent; the description of the Arabs as the “non- 
Jewish communities in Palestine” is so obviously slippery. At the time the 
Declaration was issued the population of Palestine was in the neighbourhood of 
670,000. Of these the Jews numbered some 60,000. These are broad figures, 
but reasonable: there is no accurate census to quote: in an interim report to the 
League of Nations drawn up by the military administration the Jewish total was 
put at 55,000; in a note of the 1920 Government it was put at 65,000. 

Deductions can be made from the pre-War Jewish population. Estimates of 
this vary from the caution of the official Shaw Report, which says it must have 
been at least 60,000, to the futuristic 100,000 of Mr. Bentwich. Mr. Stein says 
well over 80,000, and quotes Ruppin’s 1916 estimate of nearly 85,000. 
Accepting this last estimate, and allowing for a fall of 25,000 during the War, 

Palestine: The Reality 


which tallies with the figures of those lost by death or exile (Arab wartime 
losses being infinitely greater actually and proportionately), a 60,000 total for 
1918-19 is a fair assumption. 

Therefore we have Palestine with 91 per cent of its people Arab and 9 per 
cent Jew at the time of the Declaration. It was an Arab population with a dash 
of Jew. Half of the Jews were recent arrivals. 

Before this unpalatable reality, what did the framers of the Balfour 
Declaration do? By an altogether abject subterfuge, under colour of protecting 
Arab interests, they set out to conceal the fact that the Arabs to all intents 
constituted the population of the country. It called them the “non-Jewish 
communities in Palestine”! It called the multitude the non-few; it called the 
670,000 the non-60,000; out of a hundred it called the 91 the non-9. You might 
just as well call the British people “the non-Continental communities in Great 
Britain.” It would be as suitable to define the mass of working men as “the non- 
idling communities in the world,” or the healthy as the “non-bedridden 
elements amongst sleepers,” or the sane as “the non-lunatic section of 
thinkers” — or the grass of the countryside as “the non-dandelion portion of the 

But of course there is more than mere preposterous nomenclature in the use 
of the phrase “non-Jewish communities in Palestine” to describe the Arabs. It is 
fraudulent. It was done in order to conceal the true ratio between Arabs and 
Jews, and thereby to make easier the supersession of the former. It was as 
though in some declaration Highlanders and Lowlanders had been defined as 
“the existing non-Irish communities in Scotland” in order that the Irish colonies 
might be deemed the essential elements of the population north of the Tweed. 
The Scots themselves thus would appear to be nothing but sporadic groups 
dotted about the Caledonian soil. Upon which, dispossessive action against the 
Scots could be attempted more easily. It was a pity indeed that Lord Balfour 
was not forced to try in Scotland what he and his Zionist friends carried through 
in Palestine: one airily disingenuous statesman the less would have been left in 

Just now it was stated that at first sight this phrase seemed not so crafty, 
because it was too manifestly deceitful. But on second examination it is 
perceived to be adroit in its mean way. It plays upon general ignorance. What in 
1917 did the war-worn British public, what did the deluded Jews of Russia, 
what did any general body of people outside the Near East know about the 
composition of the population of Palestine? Nothing. 

It was upon this, then, that the drafters of the Declaration played. They 
concealed the Arabs’ very name and called them “existing communities in 
Palestine,” as though they were packets of monks who had strayed into the 
country and here and there had got a foothold in it. The qualification “existing” 
provides the finishing touch. The impression given is that these Arabs have just 

managed to survive, that an explorer has returned and reported to Lord Balfour 
that he has discovered non-Jews existing in the hills. 

Consequently the average citizen, when he read the Declaration, concluded, 
if he gave the matter any further thought at all, that proper steps would be taken 
under its terms to safeguard the occasional remnants of other races than the 
Jews who might be found in the Holy Land. This was what it was intended he 
should conclude. As for any odd individuals who in the thick of war might have 
sufficient interest to question the phraseology employed, for them what may 
have been thought a neat reply had been prepared. “Community is the correct 
word to use since the population of Palestine is divided into the Moslem, 
Christian and Jewish communities.” The Druses and Samaritans might have 
been added for effect: otherwise there is no more to say about this equivocation. 
It is enough to write it down to expose it. Words are wasted on it. 

But the Declaration was not issued merely to falsify the status of the Arabs. 
It was also to offer them a spurious guarantee, in the phrase “ it being clearly 
understood that nothing shall be done which shall prejudice the civil and 
religious rights ” of the aforesaid so-called “communities.” That their religious 
rights should not be prejudiced, indeed, was satisfactory, though there was not 
very much in that. Happily, it could be taken for granted. Wherever Britain 
rules religious rights are preserved. 

The crux arrives with “civil rights.” What are “civil rights”? All turns on 
this point. If civil rights remain undefined it is only a mockery to guarantee 
them. To guarantee anything, and at the same time not to let anyone know what 
it is, that is Alice in Wonderland legislation. “I guarantee your civil rights,” said 
the White Queen to Alice in Palestine-land. “Oh, thank you!” said Alice, “what 
are they, please?” “I’m sure I can’t tell you, my dear,” said the White Queen, 
“but I’ll guarantee very hard.” 

If only the Declaration had been as innocent as the text of Alice in 
Wonderland. Its nonsense is deceptive nonsense, written with vicious intention. 
The Arabs were guaranteed civil rights, again because to the unalert ear it 
sounded as though they were being assured a man’s normal rights, the freedom 
to choose the government of his country which every decent man should enjoy, 
the common political rights of a democratic regime. 

But in fact the Arabs were not assured these at all. The effect, and the aim, 
of the clause actually was to withdraw from the Arabs (fighting or suffering for 
us at the time under promise of independence) those very rights of 
independence for which they had contracted; to say nothing of their natural title 
to them. By sleight of tongue civil rights were substituted for political rights. If 
civil rights meant anything, which was uncertain and would take long legal 
proof (which was never offered) they meant most likely civic or borough rights, 
or such rights as a foreign householder can exercise in a country of which he is 
not a citizen. But this was untested theory. As practice went, “civil rights” was 

Palestine: The Reality 


an expression which was left without any interpretation, and so had no 
existence as a surety or guarantee at all. 

When in Jerusalem, once 1 asked a High Commissioner himself what were 
civil rights, and the answer of the High Commissioner was that “Well, they 
would be very difficult to define.” Which is precisely why they were 
guaranteed to the Arabs. It was a triumph of draftsmanship, of course, to take 
everything away from them in terms which appeared to safeguard them. A 
skilful ruse of the drafters, if a knavish one. 

There can be no doubt that the authors of this particular “guarantee” were 
the Zionists themselves, and that the phrase was introduced from America. The 
clause “it being clearly understood” and what follows has enough of a turn of 
its own to arouse attention. It is not automatic phraseology: it is no oft- 
employed cliche. If it were to be found in some previous document relating to 
the question, then obviously it was transferred from there into the Balfour 

It is so to be found, and it was transferred. When the September version of 
the Declaration was dropped because of the Magnus-Montagu opposition, the 
Cabinet or the Zionist camarilla in it gave its own attention to finding a 
substitute. But this attention, as before, consisted largely in picking and 
choosing amidst the Zionists’ suggestions. Baulked of the open mastership of 
Palestine which the September version would have given them, and driven to 
pay lip-homage to the Arabs, the Zionists, on one side of the Atlantic or the 
other, evidently offered a suitable formula drawn from the manifesto of the 
Jewish organizations of the United States, of the 2nd of October, 1916, a year 
or so before (quoted in Chapter VIII). 

In this manifesto the said organizations, inter cilia , had demanded full rights 
for the Jews wherever they lived. The manifesto went on to define these, and 
the definition was thus worded: “it being understood that the phrase ‘full rights’ 
is deemed to include civil, religious and political rights.” 

There most certainly is the source, the rough copy of the celebrated Balfour 
guarantee. The identity of words is not to be dismissed as a mere coincidence. 
The juxtaposition of “it being understood that” and of the table of rights which 
follows points unmistakably to reproduction. 

Observe, though, what a difference occurred in the new use of the formula. 
In the United States the Zionist drafters had employed the formula to define 
their own rights. In the Balfour Declaration they had to employ it to define, for 
safeguarding purposes, their own rights, but also, so to speak, to undefine the 
Arabs’ rights. They conceded therefore to the Arabs the notorious “civil rights”: 
for themselves they dropped this word “civil” altogether. They had seen from 
the beginning that it had no value, since in the manifesto they had taken care to 
demand religious and political rights in addition to civil rights. In the Balfour 
Declaration they took the same care. 

But they improved the phraseology in the “Balfour Declaration.” Not only 
was “civil” jettisoned, but with great agility the cardinal word “political” was 
shuffled from “rights” on to “status.” To have granted in the same clause only 
civil rights to the Arabs but to the Jews political rights would have been too 
glaring a contrast. It might have drawn attention even from the indifferent eyes 
of 1917. Therefore, for the Jews their “rights” were left apparently unclarified 
but really expanded in principle through the removal of the constricting 
adjective, while “political status” was brought in as something of another order 
peculiar to the Jews, and to do the work of a definite guarantee. 

Let me halt for a space to explain why it was essential to have such a 
guarantee. Without it when Palestine became a Jewish State all Jews might be 
conceived as belonging to it. This might occur even during the preliminary 
stage, during the illusory period when Jew and Arab running in harness were 
building up a new Palestine together (or whatever mixed metaphor best 
describes this atrocious mixed metaphor of policy). Antisemitism spreads 
easily, and an agitation might arise in any country to dispatch Jewish citizens to 
Palestine, or if not to expel them, to catalogue them as aliens, citizens of 
Palestine, and to deprive them of the vote. 

The insertion of the guarantee is further proof, besides, of the character of 
the regime intended under the Declaration in the Holy Land. If the “National 
Home” was to be something innocuous, a mere “national home from home” 
with a modicum of establishment receiving a stream of visitors, an institution 
without any political status, then there was no need to guarantee hosts or guests 
against losing their overseas or overland political status in their place of origin. 
If “National Home” meant a State or quasi-State, there was every need for the 

The “guarantee” clause of the Declaration, then, with its deceptive text by 
which the Arabs were to be deprived of their citizenship, sprang undoubtedly 
from Zionist brains, though it was adopted of course by Balfour and the others 
and issued by him as though the British Cabinet had thought it out. Considering 
the joint authorship of the Declaration, this perhaps might have been expected. 
Its British drafters were mostly guided by expediency: the Zionist drafters were 
doctrinaires. The British thought it necessary to shut their eyes to Arab rights; 
the Zionists were convinced or convinced themselves that the Arabs had no 
rights as men, save those the Turks might have conceded them. 

Mr. de Haas, the American drafter, proclaims their attitude very clearly. 
“We draw a distinction,” says he, “between Jewish rights and Arab claims. 
Whether the Palestinian population in 1914 possessed any tangible political 
rights is for those versed in Turkish law to say. In practice we know that such 
rights did not exist, even though the young Turks had created a paper 
Parliament. Djemaal Pasha ruled in Palestine with an iron hand, as every Turk 
had done before him, though he too may have indulged [s/c] the people in paper 
rights. The term ‘ Political rights' [Mr. de Haas’s own capital and italics] does 

Palestine: The Reality 


not appear in the Balfour Declaration. The phrase used is civil rights, and as we 
have made abundantly clear every word of that document was weighed by more 
than a score of authorities.” 

From one of the principal drafters of the Declaration, who scissored its 
terms, this statement clinches the matter. Under the Declaration the Arabs were 
to get no political rights, whether they had them in principle or not. According 
to the Zionists’ thesis, of which Mr. de Haas is such a notable exponent, they 
did not hold any in practice and it was very unlikely that they held any in 

A couple of pages later in his work, Mr. de Haas has the air of recoiling 
momentarily from this thesis, or else of having forgotten in the heat of writing 
that he had just developed it. He says, in passing, of the Arab case, “The Arab 
case, apart from the rights which inhere from living in a country . . .” But 
having mentioned this natural dower thus fugitively he does not allude to it 

Mr. de Haas is not alone in this attitude, nor is it the attitude alone of the 
Zionists of the United States. The same point of view prevails amidst British 
Zionists: it must so prevail, since to recognize that the Arabs have political 
rights is to recognize that the “National Home” cannot be imposed upon them. 
As an example of British Zionist opinion 1 may quote from Mr. Herbert 
Sidebotham, amongst Gentiles the most assiduous apologist of the cause. His 
role in Manchester has been mentioned already. He is an absolute apostle of 
Zionism, and 1 think he might be described not too maliciously as the inside -out 
Paul of the movement. 

It is very significant to see the effect which his gospel has upon him. Here is 
a man, very properly admired by his colleagues in journalism, and to be read 
with respect when he comments on other topics. But when he turns to the 
defence of Zionism and starts to justify its behaviour, he propounds the most 
extravagant theories as though they were founded in reason and matured in 
experience. This is no unusual phenomenon. A blind spot of madness seems to 
form in the outlook of everyone who succumbs to the Zionist germ. 

Mr. Sidebotham differs from Mr. de Haas in that he concentrates on the 
status of Palestine rather than on the status of its inhabitants. But he reaches a 
similar result. He deprives the Arabs of any birthright. 1 quote from a 
memorandum of his, somewhat hurriedly entitled British Policy and the 
Palestine Mandate: Our Proud Privilege. This begins “We are in Palestine by a 
conjunction, made by the accidents of war and not designed, between the oldest 
national idea in the world’s history and certain political and moral interests 
peculiar to Great Britain .” (1 cannot refrain from italicizing the final phrase. 
Could anyone?) 

At the close of his first chapter Mr. Sidebotham writes: “Palestine, in fact, 
had no separate national or geographic existence apart from that which the 
classic history of the Jews had given it, and this disappeared with Jewish 

independence. In assigning Palestine therefore as a national home, Mr. Balfour 
was not giving away anything that belonged to someone else. It was a ghost of 
the past which two thousand years had not succeeded in laying and which could 
assume an actual physical existence only through the Jews. To the Christian 
Palestine was the Holy Land. ... To others Palestine might indifferently be 
regarded as an appendage of Egypt or a part of Syria or Arabia. Only to Jews 
could Palestine be a country by itself. . . .” Or again, “Palestine as a country did 
not exist before the Balfour promise. To the Turk it was a part of the vilayet of 
Beirut, to the Arab it was the southern part of Syria.” 

1 fancy that it is a just description of the line of argument in the above 
quotation to say that it is pleasantly extravagant. It has a side to it which is so 
fantastic that it is almost entertaining. Palestine, declares Mr. Sidebotham, is 
not a country unless the Jews occupy it. Only their presence can make it one. 

There is no reason on earth why Palestine should be a country. It is too 
small, its boundaries are artificial in the main, there is nothing to distinguish it 
from the territory just to the north, its sacred character has not the slightest 
national quality. The little province is in fact nothing but a section of Syria. Its 
existence for centuries has been provincial. Mr. Sidebotham recognizes this. In 
the eyes of the Arabs it is, he says, no more than “a part of Arabia,” or is “only 
the southern part of Syria.” 

It is now that he becomes odd. Because Palestine is only a part of Arab 
territory he would take it from the Arabs’ ownership. No doubt he allows that 
the Arabs have a right to a country somewhere, but to the parts of this country 
their right vanishes. If the Jews come along and propose to turn part of an Arab 
country into a whole Jewish country, then the Arabs lose that part 
automatically. As an entity the part is untenable. But by argument on these lines 
we might get so far as to find our claim to the whole of England unsound, if we 
lay claim to it as part of the inheritance of the British race, as part of the British 
Commonwealth. For that is the way in which the Arabs lay claim to Palestine, 
on the ground that it is part of the inheritance of the Arab race, part of the Arab 
commonwealth or nexus of lands in Arab occupation. 

To return to the general issue, the situation laid down for the Arabs of 
Palestine by typical Zionist writers is that these Arabs are political slaves, 
persons not having the right of ownership of their place of birth, a place indeed 
which in their hands politically would not exist. 

Let us go back to the Declaration. After it had been published an event 
occurred which is closely attached to this particular question of national 
prerogatives, and may serve to close the discussion of it. The Zionist leaders 
approached the chief Allied Governments with a request for pronouncements of 
encouragement and support similar to that which Great Britain had given them. 

A deception awaited them. From the French, on the 9th of February, 1918, 
they received a note which was no more than adequate. Mr. Sacher, or any 

Palestine: The Reality 


other of the Political Committee, would have turned out something much more 
attractive. It ran: 

M. Sokolov representant des organisations sionistes, a ete regu ce 
matin au Ministere des Affaires Etrangeres par M. Stephen Pichon, qui a 
ete heureux de lui confirmer que V entente est complete entre les 
Gouvernements frangais et britannique en ce qui concerne la question 
d’un etablissement juif en Palestine. 

Not really a satisfactory statement, it will be seen. The French evaded giving 
the Zionists any direct guarantee. They confined themselves to saying that they 
were in agreement with the British Government’s policy. This left the onus of 
the policy upon the British, and the Quai d’Orsay spokesmen gave no pledge at 
all that they would continue in agreement with it as it developed. Moreover, the 
French note was sent with a covering letter in which M. Sokolov was 
complimented upon the “ devourment avec lequel vous poursuivez la realisation 
des voeux de vos co - re l igionna ires . ’ ’ A very back-handed compliment. It 
discounted the whole nationalist and not religious platform which the devoted 
M. Sokolov was straining to construct. 

But it was when Italy was approached that this best-laid scheme really went 
agley. 1 Here is the Italian pronouncement, given in London on the 9th of May, 
1918, to M. Sokolov by the Marchese Imperiali, the Italian Ambassador, “by 
order of Baron Sonnino”: 

In relazione alle domcinde che gli sono state rivolte il Governo di Sua 
Mciestd e lieto di confermare le precendenti dichiarazioni gia fcitte a 
mezzo dei suoi rappresentanti a Washington, l ’Aja e Salonicco, di essere 
cioe disposto ad adoperarsi con piacere per facilitare lo stcibilirsi in 
Palestina di un centro nazionale ebraico, nell’intesa pero’ che non ne 
venga nessun pregiudizio aio stcito giuridico e politico delle gia esistenti 
comunita religiose ed ai diritti civili e politici che gli isrcieliti gia godono 
in ogni altro paese. 

[In connection with the requests which have been made to it His 
Majesty’s Government is happy to confirm the previous statements made 
through its representatives in Washington, The Hague and Salonica, that 
is to say that it is prepared to take steps with pleasure in order to 
facilitate the foundation in Palestine of a Jewish national centre, on the 
understanding however that no prejudice shall arise through it to the 
legal and political status of existing religious communities and to the 
civil and political rights already enjoyed by Israelites in any other 

Palestine: The Reality 

The Italian Government in its pronouncement put in the missing words 
which made all the difference. Since the petitioners who had asked for a 
declaration had caused the Palestine population to be divided into 
“communities,” the Consulta took care to signify that this division was a 
religious one. It spiked the guns of Lord Balfour and Dr. Weizrnann who had 
used the religious idea to make the division into communities, but thereon had 
treated the communities as national divisions. 

More important and more meaning still was the insertion of the words “legal 
and political status.” The Italian Government guaranteed that the National 
Home should not prejudice those very fundamental rights of the Arabs which 
the Balfour Declaration deliberately had excised. With entire politeness it 
indicated that it was not deceived by the terms of the Balfour document, and 
that it would not be party to the suppression of native rights. 

It is impossible not to admire the neatness of the rebuke; the hoisting of the 
political Zionists with their own petard by rejecting their claims under guise of 
confirming them — just as they had drafted for the Arabs; the elegant 
assumption that Lord Balfour had intended a genuine guarantee and that Italy 
would make it more to his mind by making it watertight. 

This Italian guarantee was given, need it be said, long before the days of 
Fascism, by the old Italian Kingdom, democratic and liberal, so that it cannot 
be ascribed to rivalry or spite or other such motive. If it puts Italy in a strong 
position at present, it is simply an example of how honesty can indeed be the 
best policy. Not surprisingly, it has been kept rather quiet. The version of it 
with which Mrs. Andrews credits M. Sokolov in her The Holy Land Under 
Mandate is not exact. Mrs. Andrews quotes Italy as safeguarding only the “civil 
and religious rights of existing non -Jewish communities or the legal or political 
status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.” The Italian Declaration is turned 
thus into another Balfour Declaration. The true version, given by M. Sokolov, 
in the original Italian just cited, is very different, and stands to this day, with 
formidable implications attached to it upon which it is unnecessary to dilate. 


Illegitimacy of issuing the Declaration — The motives for issuing the 

Declaration — The Declaration as payment for services rendered. 

So much for the Declaration as a declaration. There are a trio of other points 
of view from which it yet has to be considered. The first is: Apart from the 
abuses in its deceptive terms, was the mere publication of the Balfour 
Declaration legitimate in itself? 

The point is a recapitulatory one, which the general burden of this book has 
answered. It requires to be repeated now, though, for the order of the argument, 
and can be dealt with quickly. The Government had no business to issue a 


declaration enacting, let alone crystallizing the situation of the Zionists in 
Palestine. The preceding Cabinet had covenanted to recognize the 
independence of this Arab land “in every sense of the word independence.” 
This agreement was still standing: the Arabs were carrying out their side of it 
by waging war upon the Turks. Therefore the Government had no right to 
father and to patronize officially the special action in Palestine of a third party, 
which did not intend to ask any permission for this special action from the 
Arabs, and so contravened their independence. That is the position in short. The 
Balfour Declaration, barred by the treaty with King Hussein, and issued without 
any previous consultation or consent of the Arabs, was illicit. 

The excuse has been made that under the circumstances of the time, with 
most of Palestine still in enemy hands, it was not possible to have consulted the 
Arabs. In which case obviously the only legitimate course was to wait till 
Palestine was out of enemy hands, and then to consult them. Two other courses 
also were open. 

(1) To have held preliminary negotiations with King Hussein, in which that 
monarch could have probed the meaning of “National Home” and the meaning 
of the British promise of patronage. He would have been able to demand a 
definite statement from the Zionists whether or not they were willing to develop 
their activities under the licence and within the frame of the forthcoming Arab 

(2) It would have been possible (if not so sound) to have issued a contingent 
declaration, subject to Arab agreement before it came into force. 

Neither of these evident and easy courses of action was adopted, nor any of 
the kindred courses which suggest themselves without difficulty. So the weak 
excuse that it was not possible to consult the Arabs expires at once. 

Another sort of excuse is so common that it must be mentioned also. As an 
excuse it is worth just as much as the gold in a farthing. Nothing ought to be 
more astonishing than the facility with which such a silly thing is repeated. But 
it has gained currency because it suits so well the too common laziness of mind 
which does not wish to make the least effort of inquiry into the rights or the 
wrongs of any question. The exercise of the brain is escaped by saying of any 
such question that it is all wrongs, that the situation of everyone concerned in it 
is deplorable, and that it is a waste of time to search for shades of culpability 
amidst them. “Drop grudges and start afresh” or “keep out of it,” says the 
excuse-broker, and gets off to his golf. 

In the case of Palestine, the excuse is that we have made promises all round, 
to Arabs and to Jews, in public and in private. The only common-sense, 
straightforward course therefore is to cancel “the lot of them” and to make a 
new beginning. So runs a plea which is as ignoble in attitude as it is 
indefensible in argument. If there were any basis to it, what a prospect it would 

Anyone who had repented of a contract which he had made could slip out of 
it always, by making another and later contract or contracts which were 
incompatible with the previous one. If the person to whom he was contracted 
ventured to hold him to their bargain he could go to court, display his 
documents, and plead “All these engagements of mine are in contradiction one 
with another.” The judge, finding that they were, would announce, “So they 
are. The court annuls them all therefore.” What morality and what nonsense! 

No, when an individual invokes a plurality of contracts, or a nation protests 
a superfluity of treaties or of official declarations, there is but one means of 
deciding which of them holds good. Which was the first of them? If that was 
duly transacted, it is by that the citizen or the cabinet must adhere. 

The Balfour Declaration was issued over two years after the pact with King 
Hussein had been made. It is incompatible with this previous pledge and 
therefore it is null and void. It has no more status than have the vows made to a 
woman before the al tar by a man who has a discarded wife still living. The best 
description in fact of the Balfour Declaration is that it is a bigamous 

The worst of bigamy is the suffering it inflicts upon two persons, the true 
wife and the false “wife.” In the present example of this crime, many thousands 
of Jews — I do not say their leaders — have been decoyed to Palestine by the 
junior marriage-lines to which Balfour set his name. Between these immigrants 
and their leaders the responsibility is their own affair. As far as we are 
concerned, who have inherited the responsibilities conferred on Britain by the 
1917 Cabinet, we owe to these poor people a considerable reparation, which we 
shall have some difficulty in paying. But we do not owe it to them to install 
them in the situation of the lawful spouse, or side by side with her in her home. 

The second point to be considered comes now. It also is in some degree 
recapitulatory. It deals with the causes of the Declaration, and it has been seen 
already that the publication of this was part of a bargain. It was the reward 
given to the Zionists for tipping the balance in the United States on to the side 
of participation in the War. That at least has been the main reason alleged for 
the deed of the 2nd of November. But other reasons or causes are alleged too, 
and some curious witness has been borne concerning them, which calls for 

In addition there is the question of how far the bargain made was a useful 
one. There is a historical interest in seeing what actually was carried out, and 
what was gained or was lost at so great a price. 

On the Zionist side there is no inquiry to be made. The cause of their entry 
into the Declaration bargain was the desire for their version of Zion. 

Of the British side, however, there is more to be said. The outstanding point 
is that the celebrated “historic rights,” by which the Zionists claimed entry, 
counted for little or nothing, despite all the orating about them, in the 
concession of the National Home. The Government did not issue the 

Palestine: The Reality 


Declaration because the whole Cabinet was penetrated with a romantic 
determination that the Jewish race should enjoy its own again. Jacob has had its 
Jacobites, but there were not many of them then in high places. Of those in the 
Cabinet, there was probably but the protagonist, Lord Balfour, who did not act 
with the Zionists on the do ut des 1 principle. Balfour, if he can be acquitted of 
nothing else, can be acquitted of the bargaining which was the predominant 
Governmental motive. 

He had a theory to demonstrate, which was that the world had not paid the 
Jews sufficiently for their contributions to civilization. The world was 
backward in its payments, and it was a piece of intellectual bookkeeping for 
Balfour to balance the payments. This supplied him with a sort of do quia 
dedisti motive; a reasonable gratitude. But his strongest impulse was the putting 
into practice of his own theory. It was such a moral theory to him that he did 
not care how immorally it was put into practice. 

So it was that Balfour, despite everything that happened following upon his 
Declaration, after all the outcries and the riots, after all the protests and the 
testimony of misdoing showered forth by the Arabs, still went on professing in 
his chair of Zionism with the placidity of unconcern. His theory satisfied 
himself: interruptions were tiresome, but could be lived down. 

Mark Sykes, on the other hand, who had done most for Zionism next to 
Balfour in the official world, and had been more physically active on its behalf 
than even Balfour, Mark Sykes began to doubt about it before he died, too 
soon, in 1919. “From being the evangelist of Zionism during the War he had 
returned to Paris with feelings shocked by the intense bitterness which had been 
provoked in the Holy Land,” writes his biographer Shane Leslie. “Matters had 
reached a stage beyond his conception of what Zionism would be. His last 
journey to Palestine raised many doubts.” 

Balfour’s own first and last journey to Syria, when he nearly fell, in the 
northern zone, into the power of an infuriated Arab mob, raised no doubts in 
him. Ere then, in the southern zone, like another Catherine surrounded by 
bevies of Potemkins, he had been led, with his armed escorts hidden from view, 
through the permanent set of the Zionist colonies, and had been heralded by the 
cheers of their permanent chorus. The set delighted him: it was the Palestine he 
wanted to see, something remote from the realities of the situation. 

This attitude of his has induced some to call him a dilettante in politics. He 
was and he was not. He pursued politics with iron determination, .and yet it was 
out of politics, despite his tennis and his golf, that he won his supreme 
entertainment. In all his statesmanship there was a strain of recreation and he 
would not be baulked of it. He was like a man who will have his exercise, and 
goes trudging over other people’s gardens and wheatfields in the honest cause 
of health. The Arab acres of Palestine lay on the route of Balfour’s mental 

Palestine: The Reality 

exercise, and he led his Zionist companions into them, exclaiming on the 
emptiness of the site and its suitability for occupation as he trampled the corn 
and strode past the vociferating owners. 

To accomplish and to vindicate his theories, then, Lord Balfour signed the 
Declaration. He was not ignorant of course of the material advantages which 
might come of it, but these hardly provided him with a motive. There is a piece 
of advice which says not to marry for money but to go where there is money. It 
was on these lines, as far as the nuptial settlement went, that Balfour married 
Britain to Zionism, very much en secondes noces. He would very probably 
have been even more satisfied if his rarefied idea of getting the United States to 
take over the lady had been accomplished. The United States as an Oriental 
ruler under an untried scheme was so irresistibly unlikely and therefore so 

Beside Balfour, however, there is that other dominating figure, the Prime 
Minister, Mi - . Lloyd George, to be considered. What were his motives? He did 
not say much about them at the time of the Declaration, but he has explained 
them on various occasions since. Three years ago, in the House of Commons, 
he gave his view of “Jewish historic rights” in Palestine. A general debate on 
Palestine was going on, and it was in the course of an indication of the special 
points to which he would speak that he threw out a reference to the “historic 
rights.” It was just in his style to pass casually, as he did, over what was a 
primary question, but the little he said upon it was categoric enough. 

“I am not now putting the case,” he said, “that the Arabs are only a modem 
introduction into Palestine and that the ancient inhabitants were the Jews. There 
is nothing in that case, because, after all, the Jews turned out the Hittites and the 
Ammonites.” This was only a quarter of the truth, which left out the factors of 
the brief duration and of the minor extent of Jewish occupancy, and left out the 
Arab inheritance from the “Ammonites and Hittites.” But even so it is quite 

The Zionists claimed the right of establishment in Palestine on the grounds 
of historic right, on the grounds that they were the ancient inhabitants. “There is 
nothing in that case,” said the ex-Prime Minister, yet it was on that very case, 
which was the only ostensible case, that he encouraged and supported their 
entry in 1917. What is to be said of such action? Really there is no canon, no 
axiom of justice, no propriety which has not been violated in the endeavour to 
install the Jewish National Home in Palestine. 

However, if this one was not, what was Mr. Lloyd George’s real motive, as 
head of the Government, in issuing the Declaration and in supporting the case 
in which he saw nothing. He himself has named for us two motives which do 
not agree altogether, but have something in common. The one is personal: he 
supported Zionism as a reward for Dr. Weizmann’s help in manufacturing 
chemicals during the War. The other is impersonal: he wanted to win over the 


Jews in general to the Allied cause. In his speech of June, 1937, in the 
Commons he made an explanation which merged the two, so it may be quoted. 

It was [said he] one of the darkest periods of the War when Mr. 
Balfour prepared his Declaration. Let me recall the circumstances to the 
House. At the time the French Army had mutinied, the Italian Army was 
on the eve of collapse and America had hardly started preparing in 
earnest. There was nothing left but Britain confronting the most powerful 
military combination the world has ever seen. It was important for us to 
seek every legitimate help we could get. We came to the conclusion, 
from information we received from every part of the world, that it was 
vital we should have the sympathies of the Jewish community. I can 
assure the Committee that we did not come to that conclusion from any 
predilections or prejudices. Certainly we had no prejudices against the 
Arabs because at that moment we had hundreds and thousands of troops 
fighting for Arab emancipation from the Turk. 

In these circumstances and on the advice which we received we 
decided that it was desirable to secure the sympathy and co-operation of 
that most remarkable community, the Jews throughout the world. They 
were helpful in America, and in Russia which at that moment was just 
walking out and leaving us alone. In these conditions we proposed this to 
our Allies. France accepted it, Italy accepted it, and the United States 
accepted it. And the Jews — I am here to bear testimony to the fact — 
responded nobly to the appeal which was made. I do not know whether 
the House knows what we owe to Dr. Weizmann, with his marvellous 
scientific brain. He absolutely saved the British Army at a critical 
moment when a particular ingredient which it was essential we should 
have for our great guns was completely exhausted. His great chemical 
genius enabled us to solve that problem. But he is only one out of many 
who rendered great service to the Allies. It is an obligation of honour 
which we took, to which the Jews responded. We cannot get out of it 
without dishonour. 

There is much omitted in this account of the circumstances of the 
Declaration. There is, amongst omissions, no word to recall that the Arabs were 
fighting for us, that Hussein and his sons were risking their position and their 
lives. There is no mention of our obligations to the Arabs. As for Allied 
acceptances of the Declaration, the reader has seen already how France 
accepted and how Italy accepted: he has seen something of the way in which 
“acceptance” took place in the United States. In the matter of the obligation of 
honour to the Jews, he has also seen that there remains to many innocent parties 
amongst them an obligation, but an obligation of a kind. To speak of an 
“obligation of honour” in respect of an engagement which in itself was 

dishonourable, since it violated human rights and a previous pledge, is arrant 
nonsense, and something more. 

But the question of Dr. Weizmann’ s invention remains and must be pursued 
further. There is no occasion, happily, to dispute its usefulness. Dr. Weizmann 
is a great chemist who worked with infinite zeal and rendered admirable 
service. The question is whether in describing the extent of this service Mr. 
Lloyd George’s imaginative mind has not been at play. 

He went into further details in a speech he made where the atmosphere was 
more conducive to detail perhaps than round the Treasury Bench. This was in 
May of 1925 after the lecture given by Mr. Philip Guedalla before the Jewish 
Historical Society in London, to which I referred in an early chapter. Alter 
thanking the lecturer, who had spoken of an appeal which Napoleon I made to 
the Jews, Mr. Lloyd George said, “We also made an appeal to your great 
people. Unlike Napoleon — let us be quite frank — our motives were mixed.” 
The speaker then explained the motives which sprang in his own breast from 
natural sympathy with a people with whose history and biblical literature he 
had been imbued since his childhood. 

He went on: 

There we were, confronted with your people in every country of the 
world, very powerful. You may say you have been oppressed and 
persecuted — that has been your power. You have been hammered into 
very fine steel and that is why you can never be broken. Hammered for 
centuries into the finest steel of any race in the world! And therefore we 
wanted your help. We thought it would be very useful. I am putting the 
other side quite frankly. We had had already very great help. I personally 
owe a deep debt of gratitude to Dr. Weizmann. and I am his proselyte. In 
the Ministry of Munitions I was confronted with one of the most serious 
crises with which 1 was ever beset. It was one of those unexpected things 
that come upon you like a cavalry charge coming up against a chasm. 
And I found such a chasm. As I marched from gun to gun, from shell to 
shell, I suddenly found that we had not got one of the great motive 
powers to make cordite — wood-alcohol. 1 turned to Dr. Weizmann. 

Alcohol had to be made out of wood, and he trained little animals — I 
don’t know through how many generations — to eat sugar, and the 
alcohol was made out of maize, and then there was plenty of “com in 
Egypt” and we were saved. I felt a deep debt of gratitude, and so did all 
the Allies, to the brilliant scientific genius of Dr. Weizmann. When we 
talked to him and asked him, “What can we do for you in the way of any 
honour?” he replied, “All I care for is an opportunity to do something for 
my people.” 

It was worth anything to us in honour, or in coin of the realm, but all 
he asked for was to be allowed to present his case for the restoration of 

Palestine: The Reality 


his people to the old country which they had made famous throughout 
the world. Acetone converted me to Zionism. 

So the case was put before us, and when the War Cabinet began to 
consider the case for the Declaration, it was quite unanimously in favour. 

1 think we secured the co-operation of the French at that time, and the 
famous Balfour Declaration was made. 

In his great work of war reminiscences Mr. Lloyd George repeats this 
account in closer scientific terms when describing Dr. Weizmann’s device. He 
remembers how it was C. P. Scott of the Manchester Guardian , who brought 
Weizmann to his notice as a likely chemist to solve the acetone problem. When 
there arose some difficulty in obtaining maize, owing to the submarine 
blockade, horse-chestnuts were introduced instead. This was in the autumn of 
1917. A national collection of horse-chestnuts was organized. The factory at 
King’s Lynn which had carried out the maize process, altered to the chestnuts, 
“and though at first the poor quality of the material hampered output these 
difficulties were overcome, and the Weizmann process was turning out acetone 
from horse-chestnuts by the time the factory was closed in 1918.” 

When our difficulties were solved through Dr. Weizmann’s genius 
[continues Mr. Lloyd George] 1 said to him, “You have rendered great 
service to the State, and 1 should like to ask the Prime Minister to 
recommend you to His Majesty for some honour.” He said, “There is 
nothing 1 want for myself.” “But is there nothing we can do as a 
recognition of your valuable assistance to the country?” I asked. He 
replied, “Yes. 1 should like you to do something for my people.” He then 
explained his aspirations as to the repatriation of the Jews to the sacred 
land they had made famous. That was the fount and origin of the famous 
declaration about the National Home for Jews in Palestine. 

As soon as I became Prime Minister 1 talked the whole matter over 
with Mr. Balfour, who was then Foreign Secretary. As a scientist he was 
immensely interested when 1 told him of Dr. Weizmann’s achievement. 

We were anxious at that time to enlist Jewish support in neutral 
countries, notably in America. Dr. Weizmann was brought into direct 
contact with the Foreign Secretary. This was the beginning of an 
association the outcome of which, after long examination, was the 
famous Balfour Declaration which became the charter of the Zionist 
movement. So that Dr. Weizmann with his discovery not only helped us 
to win the War, but made a permanent mark upon the map of the world. 

These quotations are conclusive evidence, 1 think, of the motives which 
inspired Mr. Lloyd George. He gives them to us in the proverbial nutshell; at 
least, in two nutshells. “Acetone converted me to Zionism” and “The co- 
operation of Jews, notably in America, converted me to Zionism.” The second 
nutshell is a combination of my own, it is true, but it is composed out of his 
Palestine: The Reality 

own words and in faithfulness to the sense of his three discourses. But, whether 
it was the physical acetone of Dr. Weizmann in England, or the moral acetone 
of Jewish aid in the whole world, which converted him to Zionism, one thing is 
manifest: there was no question of Zionism converting Mr. Lloyd George to 
Zionism. In his own words, “There is nothing in that case.” The Balfour 
Declaration, as far as it concerned the Prime Minister, was a salary he paid the 
Zionists for their services, no more, and if the metaphor be taken to the end, 1 
fear it must be said that it was paid out of Arab trust-funds. It is evident he 
should have inquired into the character of the territorial cash at which, in his 
impulsive manner, he grabbed. 

His account of what happened, besides the omissions mentioned, contains 
minor inaccuracies, and one not at all so small. He says that when the War 
Cabinet began to consider the case for the Declaration it was quite unanimously 
in favour. This appears a mere playing with facts, for if it can be said that at 
some early sessions the members of the War Cabinet present fell in with the 
scheme, a situation soon developed in which there was Cabinet dissension 
about it. As we have seen, the scheme once was actually voted down: “1 cannot 
do anything till the decision is reversed,” said Balfour. Of this Mr. Lloyd 
George gives no hint, nor does he give a word to Edwin Montagu’s 
considerable and persistent opposition. So that the picture given is anything but 
correct, and only achieved by allowing hearers or readers to believe that the 
attitude of some Ministers at a given moment remained the attitude of all 
continuously, which it did not. 

Since he was inaccurate about his own Cabinet, it seemed as well to learn 
something of the acetone story from other sources besides Mr. Lloyd George. 
This, in short, is what happened. In 1912 Dr. Weizmann was associated with a 
firm named Strange and Graham, which was engaged in analytical research and 
in production in the field of chemical supply. In the month of March of that 
year a Mr. Kane, one of Strange and Graham’s chemists, made a discovery of 
some importance, which was that among the products of the fermentation of 
starch, a process he was studying, there was acetone to be found. Acetone was 
at the time a necessary ingredient for the manufacture of certain high 
explosives. This discovery was made known to Dr. Weizmann, in a current 
way, as part of the work of the firm. 

There the matter remained. Then Dr. Weizmann left the employ of Messrs. 
Strange and Graham. But Kane’s discovery had interested him. He did not think 
that it had been sufficiently followed up. Acting now entirely upon principles of 
his own, he attacked the question of extracting acetone from starch as found in 
various substances, and developed a new process. 

When the War broke out, the production of acetone became important. Dr. 
Weizmann gave fresh attention to his process. His old firm, using the original 
Kane system, was manufacturing acetone. The explosives experts of the 
Government, inquiring into production, heard of Dr. Weizmann’s process. Sir 


Frederick Nathan, who at the time was adviser to the Admiralty on cordite 
supplies, was struck by the report he received on the Weizmann process from a 
Mr. Rintoul, who was at the head of the Research Department of the Nobel 
Explosives Company. Sir Frederick Nathan got into touch with Dr. Weizmann 
and advised him to patent his process. This he did in October 1915, and it was 
adopted by the Government and was substituted for the Kane process or for 
whatever version of the Kane process was in use. 

There was, as it happens, a technical dispute after the War upon the patent 
rights, and a case was brought in 1926 before one of the judges of the Fligh 
Court, in which Dr. Weizmann was the plaintiff. Evidence showed that the new 
process, though of course it started from the initial discovery of Kane, owed 
nothing at all to his subsequent methods or those of his firm in developing it, 
since Dr. Weizmann had hit upon an essentially different form of extraction. 
Judgment therefore was conclusively given in Dr. Weizmann’s favour. 

Work on the Weizmann process began in June 1916 (as stated by Mr. Lloyd 
George), on the 19th, the raw material used being maize. From that date to the 
last day of the year the average weekly production of acetone under the process 
was 4 tons 8 cwt. 68 lbs. During 1917 the average was raised to 5 tons 3 cwt. 
14 lbs. It then declined with a declining demand for acetone and during 1918 
the factory at King’s Lynn, where the process was concentrated, worked 
intermittently and finally ceased. It had also been employed in other factories, 
but not for so long. The process was also used more extensively in Canada 
during 1917. 

A summing-up of the matter which I have had from authoritative quarters is 
that the acetone process was theoretically right, and was used to some extent by 
the army, but not a great deal. The bacteria — the “trained little animals” of Mr. 
Lloyd George’s speech — fermented starch from maize, and afterwards from 
horse-chestnuts, and wood-acetone and an alcohol were produced. These were 
separated and the acetone was suitable for making cordite. But because acetone, 
from all sources was scarce — according to Mr. Lloyd George himself a single 
British factory was producing it — the army adopted a propellant which did not 
require acetone. Its requirements of course entirely swamped other demands for 

If there had been plenty of acetone, the army would have gone on using it, 
no doubt. But there was not plenty. The army supplies were made independent 
of it therefore; alternative solvents were used to make another form of 
propellant known as R.D.B. 

It is the fault of the ex-Premier that I have to make this rectification, which 
seems ungenerous towards Dr. Weizmann perhaps. But if Mr. Lloyd George 
had not magnified what Weizmann did in the interests of justifying the price 
which he paid him, there would have been no occasion to write these 
paragraphs upon the degree of accomplishment of a man who served the 
country valuably and steadily throughout the War. 

As it is, the price paid is preposterous beyond belief. Reading Mr. Lloyd 
George’s text you would imagine that there had been some scaling -down of 
payment, but what happened was just the contrary. Mr. Lloyd George with 
some artfulness screens with Dr. Weizmann’s refusal of any honours for 
himself (to which I render entire homage) his suggestion of colossal honours, if 
they can be called honours, for a body to which he was attached. Far from 
scaling down the price paid for the acetone, the Prime Minister by accepting 
this suggestion consented to give for it a reward beyond all price. A Grand 
Cross of the Bath or an Order of Merit given to Dr. Weizmann, however 
valuable to the recipient, would have cost the State nothing. But, even 
supposing that Dr. Weizmann had “absolutely saved the British Army,” to 
confer upon him and upon his in return proprietary rights in a country which 
was in possession of another race and was secured by treaty to that race, was 
this the reward applicable to the occasion? If land was the only possible 
recompense, there were the Isle of Wight and the Isle of Man, and other British 
places in Britain’s free gift, ready to be handed over. 

No British commander obtained more than an earldom from the Great War. 
No commander of any of the belligerent Powers on land or on sea, from Foch 
and Jellicoe downwards, some of whom at least must have saved armies or 
navies sometime, by the very order of things, no commander of them all 
received more than title, or decorations, or grant of money. Yet for Dr. 
Weizmann history is turned inside out, geography is suppressed, a people is 
disfranchised and an empire is forsworn. All in return for a formula for making 
propellant-paste, which was valuable for a while and after a while was 

The thing is outrageous. The whole sum of war-profiteering is a mite in 
comparison with this. Even if the Palestine prize were not given for acetone, 
but for the enlistment of Jewish support in the United States and other countries 
(Mr. Lloyd George’s alternative essential motive) what then? It would still be 
outrageous, it would still be the most gigantic and most intolerable “deal” of the 

But possibly the truest comment on the reward paid to the Zionists is to 
examine what in sober reality was gained for the Allies by the “National 
Home” transaction. So much is assumed upon this point, and so little is 

Certainly one of the anticipated recompenses never came to hand. “The 
Foreign Office,” writes Lord Balfour’s biographer when dealing with the 
October-November period, “was now in fact anxious to reap all the immediate 
advantages there might be in the Declaration.” She goes on, “It was expected 
apparently to have some direct results on the Russian revolution, then passing 
out of its Menshevik phase. Lenin and Trotsky took power in the same week of 
November 1917 that Jewish nationality won its recognition.” There is much 
unrealized satire in this last sentence. However, the direct results which were 

Palestine: The Reality 


expected will have been that Russia would go on fighting. This Russia did — at 

But it would be unfair to suppose that Zionism was to make its real return 
for the Balfour Declaration in Russia. This was only dangled as an attractive 
possibility. The real return was to be in the United States, where Zionist 
adherents and the Zionist machine were (as we have seen more than once) to tip 
the trembling scale and bring the great Federation into the War. 

It is sustained that they did so, but I have never read any satisfactory proof 
of it. 1 agree that it would be a difficult thing to prove, for there was no day or 
short critical period when you could say at the end of it that the United States 
changed over from opposing participation to favouring participation. If there 
had been such a critical instant, there would have been some chance of showing 
who or what supplied the decisive twist. But there was no such occasion, 
though certain events provided factors to participation. Therefore there is this 
difficulty of proof. 

At the same time, it is clear that the obstacles in the way of proving the case 
do not permit it to be assumed. If the Zionists cannot easily show how they 
brought America in, they are equally unentitled to say without producing 
evidence that they did bring America in, and to profit by this unverified 

Such evidence as there is on the whole tells altogether against their being the 
deciding factor. No doubt they were one factor amongst a quantity. They won a 
number of their own people over from indifference or semi-support of the other 
side, but they have made claims as though they were the factor which brought 
in the United States. It is an interesting point that in the volume of Mr. Lloyd 
George’s memoirs which treats of the American entry into the War he makes no 
mention of Zionism as a contributory cause. We have the sinking of the 
Lusitania and of various United States merchant-vessels, the Zimmerman 
dispatch to Mexico, and other such events. We have an expose of President 
Wilson’s developing opinions, and so on. But of Zionist help, nothing. It seems 
to me that if it had been so valuable as all that, had been as valuable as Mr. 
Lloyd George is by way of sustaining in other passages of his memoirs (such as 
have been just quoted), then it should not have slipped his memory completely 
at the moment of cardinal computation. 

The run of the evidence in fact does not square with Zionist help having 
been the determining factor. The leaders such as Brandeis and de Haas had 
enough to do, it is quite evident, in gathering supporters for the Zionist cause 
itself and in trying to counteract the anti -Allied sentiment amidst these 
supporters, particularly amidst all the seniors who had been in Russia or 
remembered Russia. This was excellent subsidiary work for the Allies, which 
deserves every recognition, but it was negative and preparatory, not positive 
and final. You may not be able to make a road till you have removed the rocks 
and undergrowth on the site, but you cannot exact payment for the completed 

road while you are still digging at the bushes and your tractors are dragging the 
surface rocks away. 

“From the fall of 1914 to the summer of 1915 the Zionists had no real Press 
of their own,” avows Mr. de Haas, “no stirring publicity department, and had 
only intermittent support from the Yiddish Press, which was still in doubt as to 
the correct war-policy, and therefore hesitated to support ad hoc the Brandeis 
pro-Ally programme.” From 1915 to 1917 the activity of Brandeis and his 
associates increased the number of Zionist adherents enormously, but the 
Zionist body was still eminently Zionist and had not been made pro-Ally. 

The organization had to contend with the obvious difficulty that many 
Jews could not swallow the avowed support of the Allied cause [Mr. de 
Haas explains, when detailing its upward struggle], Brandeis [says he in 
a general expose] unhesitatingly banked on Allied victory when he took 
office as Zionist leader, but the Zionists in Europe were naturally divided 
according to each local allegiance. Russian Jews were however not in 
sympathy with the Russian cause, and thousands of Jews everywhere 
rightly felt that every Russian victory in Eastern Europe was a gain for 
the forces of oppression. It was not until the fall of Tsardom [six weeks 
before the Balfour Declaration was issued] that a simple pro-Allied 
attitude became possible in this country [U.S.] and elsewhere. Moreover 
there were Zionists who were pacifists and conscientious objectors to 
war in every form. 

This mixed situation created an excellent opportunity for German 
propaganda both in America and Poland. Therefore until America came 
into the War the American Zionist organization had to be handled with 
considerable skill in order to maintain its pro-Ally alignment. 

[German blunders helped.] The Brandeisian policy throughout this 
situation was to keep all Germans and all German propaganda at arm’s 
length. This decision required tact, determination and a mass of 
information. The Zionist Organization had no secrets to hide, but to keep 
it clear of German influence, disguised in the most benevolent and 
insidious forms of intrigue, was no light task. It was however 
accomplished. [Italics in this passage are all mine.] 

The gist of this is that the definite tipping of the scale in the United States 
towards participation in the War cannot be claimed by the Zionist leaders, who 
had all they could do to maintain any sort of pro-Allied attitude even within 
their own body. Once more the enormity, in every sense, of the grant to them of 
the Balfour Declaration with its lien upon Palestine stands out. 

It might perhaps be asserted that the Balfour concession, as it were, was 
given in exchange for Zionist influence amidst just a few men in the United 
States, the great Jewish bankers and financiers and other magnates. But that 
assertion cannot be borne out either. Mrs. Dugdale herself records that Balfour 

Palestine: The Reality 


when in the United States found “the Jewish magnates hostile to the national 
[that is, Zionist] movement.” Two months after the Declaration was issued our 
Ambassador at Washington “reported on Brandeis’s authority that the Zionists 
were violently opposed by the great Capitalists.” More evidence could be cited, 
but this is evidence enough. Any great Jewish financial interests in the United 
States which came to our support did not do so because of the pleadings of any 

Yet generalizations upon what the movement accomplished in America have 
been and continue to be fluid and free. A typical and recent example is provided 
by Mr. Landman, enunciating in a pamphlet that in the Balfour Declaration 
contract the main consideration “given by the Jewish people — represented at 
the time by the leaders of the Zionist Organization — was their help in bringing 
President Wilson to the aid of the Allies.” 

Accurate specification of this aid, and of exactly how it was all-important, is 
never provided. No doubt Judge Brandeis helped and encouraged the President 
in his plans. But that is all that can even be surmised. No one, amongst the 
Zionists themselves, has dared to sustain that the President and his circle of 
advisers would have reached contrary conclusions and have remained neutral 
but for Mr. Brandeis. 

Once the United States had entered the War, the United States Zionists 
undoubtedly were very helpful. Brandeis was able to point out to the President 
that the Jews in general (by no means all of them Zionists) had contributed far 
more enlistments to the armed forces of the Republic than their ratio to the total 
population warranted. 

But whatever the Zionists did, after war was declared, was upon another 
plane. It was done in allegiance to the Stars and Stripes. No doubt they had 
their personal motives in addition to their motives as citizens, but necessarily it 
was as citizens that they acted thenceforth, in common with their fellow- 
citizens of every extraction. The existing non-Zionist communities in the 
United States upon their own initiative had resolved on war, and this resolution 
whelmed the minor actions of all pro-war bodies in the greater action of 
President and people. The official Zionist policy was no longer an individual 
course up the stream, but in the general turnover from neutrality merged and 
ran headlong with the flood of the nation. The Zionists of the Union can hardly 
demand Palestine for doing their American duty. 

The third and final point comes up for consideration now. It is the question 
of responsibilities. The largest share of them must be borne by the 1917 
Government. The Zionists have a big burden to carry, but their action would 
have come to nothing without first the acquiescence, and later the collusion, the 
backing and finally the incitement of Whitehall. 

They were inspired too by an ideal, even though it was ill-interpreted and 
should have been carried out in a purer way. Unfortunately their leaders 
rejected the pilgrimage to Zion in favour of the appropriation of Palestine. But 

the presence of an ideal, however subverted, does attenuate in a minor degree 
their fault, and there is not much counterpart to be found for it in the bargaining 
motives of our own Government. 

No doubt the Government was in some straits because of the perils of the 
war at the time. In the then Prime Minister’s own words, “It was important for 
us to seek every legitimate help we could get.” The help though had to be 
legitimate. It could not be that form of help which is helping oneself to 
another’s property. The Government was, indeed, fighting to save England, and 
that would seem to supply it with a motive equal, or superior to the Zionists’. 
But it was precisely to save England that the members of the Government were 
waging the war. It was to preserve the England which had come down to them, 
not to substitute for it an England of easier conscience and then to claim this as 
a survival. 

There was the question too of position and of setting an example. It was for 
the British realm to set the example, not to conform to the standards of the 
Zionists. Methods understandable from a self-appointed fresh-made caucus 
such as the Zionist Organization were beyond belief when proposed by the 
heirs of a hundred Parliaments. 

The responsibility for not taking this view must lie therefore upon the 
Cabinet of 1917, and principally upon Lord Balfour, who insisted on working 
out, in a sphere which the War placed at his mercy, an academic thesis of his 
own, in a particular way. When that way was barred to him by facts, he scorned 
them and scorned that elementary justice which was altogether too much in the 
foreground for his style of seeing things. He persisted wilfully in his course, 
and as we have seen, it was he who broke every opposition. 

“From the first,” his biographer assures us, “he threw his whole weight on 
the side of the Zionists, and without it they might not have prevailed.” “The 
Balfour Declaration,” say the officials of the Zionist Organization in their 
report upon it, “is justly so-called, not only because it fell to Sir Arthur Balfour 
as Foreign Secretary to write the historic letter, but also because he, more than 
any other single statesman, is responsible for the policy embodied in the 

As happens now and then in the course of public events, words which were 
written to be a eulogy have stayed to be an impeachment. 

With this the immediate examination of the Balfour Declaration may end. 
These were its principal characteristics: 

1 . Its publication broke our pledged word to the Arab race. 

2. Its object was to establish the Jews in a privileged position in Palestine 
without the assent of the population, as a prelude to the absorption of the latter, 
under plea of their co-operation, in a future Jewish State. 

3. It was written in great part by those who were supposed only to have 
received it, and was deliberately worded so that the truth might be hidden by it, 
its guarantees to the Arabs be useless and its promises intangible. 

Palestine: The Reality 


4. It was ostensibly a recognition of Zionist aspirations to return to Palestine 
under the sanction of historic rights, but in reality it was the published clause of 
a private bargain by which war-spoils were to be given in payment for war- 

There is relief in quitting this subject. The Balfour Declaration will recur in 
the remaining chapters, but at least in combination with other proclamations or 
papers or speeches and in conjunction with other events. So it will be less 

But it is a pity that it cannot be lost from sight, and a greater pity that it has 
not yet been removed from our public records. Unlawful in issue, arbitrary in 
puipose, and deceitful in wording the Balfour Declaration is the most 
discreditable document to which a British Government has set its hand within 


First consequences of the Balfour Declaration — Mr. Ormsby-Gore appears on 
the scene — Allenby’s campaign — The Arabs’ exact part in it — Allenby leaves 
the Balfour Declaration unpublished in Palestine — The reasons for this. 

In their report upon it, the Zionist Organization officials declared that the 
publication of the Balfour Declaration was “the signal for an unprecedented 
outburst of joy and enthusiasm throughout the length and breadth of Jewry.” A 
commentary upon this is provided in a letter written on the 1 1th of November 
from India by Mr. Edwin Montagu. “I see,” he wrote, “that Balfour has made 
the Zionist declaration against which I fought so hard. The Government has 
dealt an irreparable blow at Jewish Britons and has endeavoured to set up a 
people which does not exist.” The then highest-placed Jew in the country 
showed therefore neither joy nor enthusiasm, and there were plenty of Jews 
who thought like him. 

But a great deal of enthusiasm undoubtedly did follow in other quarters. 
“The text was cabled through the War Office and the Foreign Office to Jews in 
the remotest corners of the earth. Sheafs of cables were taken by us to the War 
Office,” writes Mr. Landman, “for this purpose.” The response was on a similar 
scale. Russian Zionists sent an address to the British Government to give thanks 
for the “inspiring declaration.” Similar messages came from most European 
countries and of course in great numbers from the United States. The most 
interesting result however occurred in Germany. The German Zionist 
Association passed a resolution greeting with satisfaction the act of the British 
Government in “recognizing the right of the Jewish people to a national 
existence in Palestine.” 

This, Mr. Horace Kallen points out, was “tantamount to defiance of their 
rulers.” So it was, but the rulers were hardly aware of the defiance, they 

themselves were so annoyed to think that they had not got in first with this bid 
for universal Jewish support. Everybody at the time seems to have taken for 
granted that universal Jewish support was going to turn the tide of the War. 
Never was there better evidence of how general the belief is in that power of 
international Jewry, and in the existence of international machinery for using it, 
which most Jews themselves so consistently deny. On this strange occasion 
though, the Jews not merely did not deny it, but appear to have encouraged the 
story of their international power, and to have done their best to spread popular 
credence in it. A little more and they would have rescued the “Protocols of 
Zion” and other such rubbish from the waste -paper baskets of the world and 
have gone about brandishing them, and crying to the belligerents, “See what we 
can do when we league together.” 

Ludendorff himself, if he did not send a telegram of congratulation to Lord 
Balfour, declared that his Declaration was the cleverest bit of propaganda the 
Allies had accomplished. The statement is attributed to him, at least, and seems 
likely, for under German General Staff orders an undignified scramble began at 
Constantinople, where the German and Austrian ambassadors sought somehow 
to extract imitation Balfour Declarations from the Turks. They had no success 
worth mentioning. 

Not very consistently, the Germans spread the text of it by wireless through 
the regions under the control of the Central Powers, on the chance of gaining 
something by exposing it wherever they did not or could not imitate it. It came 
to Palestine first in this manner. But the military position was too acute for 
much effect to spring from this. Allenby’s winter offensive began only some 
three weeks after the Declaration was published and he entered Jerusalem on 
the 9th of December. The one act of any possible usefulness to the enemy cause 
which was achieved was that the Balfour text, through the Turks, was passed to 
the Emir Feisal, in the hope of shaking his adherence to Britain. But of what 
followed upon that we shall see later. 

At the moment the point to be made is that those Jews who scout the stories 
of consciously exerted world-wide Jewish influence might well turn for their 
proofs to the period of which I am writing. What was the result of all the wild 
bidding for the Zionist international help? What did we in particular gain by our 
apparently winning nod? Nothing tangible. Resolutions in Zionist coteries in 
Berlin and in Petrograd did not go far to give us a victory. 

As in the case of the United States, all the talk of the rally of world-Jewry to 
the Allies in Europe never seems to get beyond the statement that there was 
such a rally and that extraordinary results flowed from it. But what were these 
results? What did world-Jewry accomplish? No doubt world- Jewry did 
something. But what did it do on a great scale, what did it do that can be traced 
and expounded’? 

In Russia there is not even a suggestion of accomplishment. Indeed Russia 
went the other way, and we were fighting her before long. In Germany none of 

Palestine: The Reality 


the great Jewish supporters of the imperial regime ceased their part in the 
struggle for German success. And when the imperial regime collapsed, the 
scissions 1 in the will-to-win of the German people did not come from Zionist 
streams percolating through the national system. It was not by Zionist aid that 
the Allies conquered Germany, but by their arms. 

However, in the fictitious atmosphere of the time promises showed full of 
promise and the heavens were alight with congratulations. A later epitome of 
the situation condenses them. “For once,” says Mr. Kallen, without a smile, 
“for once justice, internationalism and imperialistic interests were in harmony.” 
To celebrate this meeting of strong waters in the newly issued Declaration a 
great assembly under Zionist auspices was held in London at Covent Garden in 
early December. All manner of people discoursed in many tongues. 

Some of the speeches have gained importance with time, as they are records 
of sentiments and of intentions which their authors now probably would like 
suppressed. Some, on the contrary, stand to the credit of those who delivered 
them. The Chief Rabbi spoke to his auditory of the rights of the people of 
Palestine, and did not qualify these rights in any way. Sir Mark Sykes 
pronounced a discourse which his hearers cheered, without taking the broad 
hint which it contained. “You will always,” said he, “look back with joy to the 
fact that when the promise was held out to you of reparation you thought of 
your fellows in adversity, the Armenians and the Arabs.” As regards the 
Armenians it was a deserved commendation: as regards the Arabs Sykes was to 
be disillusioned. 

Lord Cecil declared, without any sign of examination into what he was 
saying, that “Our wish” (he represented the Government at the meeting) “is that 
Arabian countries shall be for the Arabs, Armenia for the Armenians and 
Judaea for the Jews.” He went on to give a perfect example of that strange 
directional idealism of his, which focuses on some chosen result which appeals 
to him and leaves surroundings, circumstances, origins, and everything else in 
darkness he makes no effort to dispel. “1 say,” continued he, “that one of the 
great causes for which we are in this war is to secure to all peoples the right to 
govern themselves and to work out their own destiny, irrespective of the threats 
and the menaces of their greater neighbours.” 

Yet, when he made this speech, the great cause for which he was there was 
to abstract from the people of Palestine the right to govern themselves. The 
inner object of the gathering he addressed was that the people of Palestine 
should not work out their own destiny, but instead have it worked out for them 
in the way which the majority of those whom he was addressing desired. The 
very event which he rose to celebrate was the drafting of the terms under which 
the will of a “great neighbour” was to be forced upon a small people. 

Palestine: The Reality 

What is the lesson of such an extraordinary display? A very useful one. It is 
that in this affair of Palestine no one need be moved or influenced by the great 
names or the altruistic reputations of those who have espoused or patronized the 
Zionist cause. That men such as Lord Cecil or General Smuts should be on the 
Zionist side is no guarantee at all that the Zionist side is the right one. It only 
means that men such as Lord Cecil or General Smuts are human, and can be 
and have been as foolish, and as perverse too, as any minor persons. Their 
names only guarantee them as men of good intentions generally. They do not 
guarantee the ration of good intentions which they apportion to any given 
situation, nor even their knowledge of it. 

When and how was General Smuts, for example, to learn, during his African 
campaign, of the composition of the population of Palestine, of the character, 
extent and length of the Arab occupation of that land? 1 am ready to run all 
risks of lese-mcijeste in South Africa by saying that in every probability at that 
time he was ignorant of these essential points. Afterwards, unfortunately, he 
became contumaciously ignorant of them, in the Balfour manner. 

In those early, all-important days no Arab got through to tell the truth to 
high-placed personages. The Arabs indeed were not considered to be men 
worthy of consultation or with a right to it. In any event, they were out of reach, 
in part far away fighting, in part inhabiting the scene of war, dissipated here and 
there, and themselves unaware as yet of the trick which was being played upon 
them. Official Britain, official Dominion statesmen and others in similar 
positions who were to “confirm” the Balfour Declaration, accepted in good 
faith the version of Palestine’s conditions which was prepared for them by the 
Zionists and handed out by those in Governmental and Civil Service posts who 
were in liaison with the Zionists. 

Nobody realized the perfidy of the Balfour Declaration. Men such as Lord 
Sydenham later to be one of the greatest Arab champions, sent messages of 
congratulation upon its issue. 

There were speeches at the Covent Garden meeting, however, which should 
have served as warnings to friends of the Arabs of the situation intended for the 
latter, wherever their presence impeded the realization of Zionist aims. Dr. 
Gaster made a very important speech. He was one of the directing group, a 
Declaration-draftsman, and the owner of the house where the first official 
Anglo-Zionist conference had met in February. He spoke therefore with much 
authority. “What Zionism stands for,” said he, “must be clearly apprehended 
and also what the declaration of the British Government is expected to embody. 
. . . What we wish to obtain in Palestine is not merely a right to establish 
colonies or educational or cultural or industrial institutions. We want to 
establish in Palestine an autonomous Jewish Commonwealth in the fullest sense 
of the word. We want Palestine to be Palestine of the Jews and not merely a 
Palestine for Jews. We want the land to be a land of Israel. The ground must be 


As there is so often occasion to remark, nothing could be clearer. Did any of 
Zionism’s Gentile supporters, present in force, disclaim Dr. Gaster’s proposals? 
Did Lord Cecil offer a twitter of demur to them on behalf of the Government? 
Did another primary supporter of the cause disclaim them, one whose name 
now enters upon the scene, the recent Colonial Secretary, Mr. William Ormsby- 

They uttered no dissentient word. On the contrary, when it came to Mr. 
Ormsby-Gore’s turn to speak, this is the essence of what he had to say: “The 
Jewish claim to Palestine is to my mind overwhelming. . . . From the moment 1 
met their Zionist leaders, whether in Egypt or in this country, 1 felt that there 
was in them something so sincere, so British, so straightforward, that at once 
my heart went out to them. ... 1 have done what little I can to help forward the 
movement, and in the future, if you are looking out for a friend, count me as 
one of them.” 

There is not much of a disclaimer about this pronouncement. From the start 
Mr. Ormsby-Gore helped to set the tone of the pro-Zionist policy which year by 
year has been destroying further and further our ancient good name and high 
status in the Middle East. We shall see him at work. 

A few days after this meeting Sir Mark Sykes made another speech; in 
Manchester. There was more than a hint that the Arabs should be remembered 
in this speech; he warned the Jews to “look through Arab glasses.” 

The warning was of no avail. A trifle of lip-homage was paid to the Arabs 
for a week or so, and then they were put out of sight. In the last week of the 
year a meeting was convened of the Jewish National Fund Commission for 
England, to consider the financial needs of the Zionist project. M. Sokolov 
himself was present. Mr. Ettinger, another of the Declaration-drafters, outlined 
a scheme for the colonization of Palestine. “All that the present generation can 
do,” he said, “is to lay the foundations of the community. But the Commission 
has in mind the settlement of two million Jews, with eight hundred or a 
thousand cities, garden-cities and towns.” 

This statement of Mr. Ettinger’s, so rich in prospect for the Arabs, may be 
said to have marked the close of a period, the period of theory. Till now, all that 
had been arranged for Palestine had been arranged theoretically, upon paper, at 
a distance from its soil. The Arab armed forces from the Hedjaz, it is true, in 
the course of their action against the Turks, certainly were approaching that 
soil. In their simple pedestrian way they were advancing under Lawrence upon 
Akaba. But the Zionist advance had been carried out by proxy, in London and 
New York. 

This situation was drawing to an end. The physical occupation of Palestine 
by Britain was about to begin, and thereby of course to introduce quite a new 
turn of events. 

If British occupation of Palestine had not begun earlier, it had not been for 
want of desire. As soon as he became Prime Minister in 1915 Mr. Lloyd 

George had pressed for an advance from Egypt into the Holy Land. He saw the 
great prestige to be won from a capture of Jerusalem, if no more than that could 
be accomplished. 

Sir Archibald Murray then commanded the forces charged with the defence 
of Egypt. Technical difficulties prevented him from turning his defensive role 
into anything of an offensive nature in the direction of Palestine till January of 
1917. Early in that month the first British soldiers — New Zealanders from 
Auckland — crossed the frontier. But Murray was short of men and could not 
obtain reinforcements. In January some 40,000 Turks faced him. He had four 
divisions. Fortunately the Arab revolt had kept 12,000 more Turks in the 
Hedjaz and upon the lines of communication leading to there. 

Operations against Palestine were postponed eventually till the autumn and 
a division was withdrawn from Murray for service on the Western Front. None 
the less in the spring he undertook the so-called “offensive-defensive” against 
Gaza. Assaults were delivered in March and in April, but both failed. Our 
losses were considerable, and whether the second assault should have been 
delivered at all is very doubtful. The responsibility for it rests in the main with 
the General Staff, though Murray’s dispatches after the first attack were over- 
optimistic and created in London a wrong impression of the position. “The 
second attack on Gaza,” writes Lawrence, “which London forced on one too 
weak or too politic to resist. ... 1 heard how we went into it, everybody 
generals and staff-officers, even soldiers, convinced that we should lose.” In 
June Sir Archibald Murray, “like the commanders of many other British 
‘advanced guards’ sent to open a campaign with insufficient forces” ( Official 
History of the War ) was superseded. General Allenby was sent out to take his 

Allenby landed in Egypt on the very day, the 6th of July, that the Arabs 
under Lawrence captured Akaba by skilful manoeuvre. They had taken two 
months to reach their objective. The six -hundred-mile route “was so long and 
difficult that we could take neither guns nor machine-guns, nor stores nor 
regular soldiers.” They started out from Wejh, a mere reconnaissance-group on 
camels, and raised their force by degrees from the Arab tribes through or near 
whose districts they passed. Two Syrian officers formed Lawrence’s “staff,” 
ready for the entry into their native territory. They picked their way over lava 
and through desert scrub, in solar heat and often enveloped by sandstorms 
“Some even of the rough tribesmen broke down under the cruelty of the sun, 
and crawled or had to be thrown under rocks to recover in their shade.” But 
they ran about and showed themselves at all points to give an impression that 
they were more numerous than their real numbers. 

“The hill-sides were steep and exhausted our breath, and the grasses twined 
like little hands round our an kl es as we ran, and plucked us back. The limestone 
tore our feet, and long before evening the more energetic men were leaving a 
rusty print upon the ground with every stride. Our rifles grew so hot with sun 

Palestine: The Reality 


and shooting that they seared our hands. The rocks on which we flung ourselves 
for aim were burning, so that they scorched our breasts and arms, from which 
later the skin drew off in ragged sheets. The smart made us thirst, but even 
water was rare with us.” 

The Turks fired vainly on them with mountain-guns. The Arabs on their 
camels charged Turkish infantry formations and broke them. They captured one 
strong outpost of Akaba by favour of an eclipse of the moon. By their methods 
of fighting the Arabs shattered the Turks’ morale, and they had already 
deceived them upon their objective, so that when they came down finally upon 
their goal the garrison, and the men of the outposts driven in to it, hesitated, 
parleyed and surrendered. The five hundred Arabs took prisoner seven hundred 
Turkish men and forty-two officers. 

“Strategically,” says Liddell Hart, “the capture of Akaba removed all danger 
of a Turkish raid through Sinai against the Suez Canal or the communications 
of the British Army in Palestine ... it ensured the Arab ulcer continuing to 
spread in the Turkish flanks, draining their strength and playing upon their 

From Akaba Lawrence rode the hundred and fifty miles to Suez, and thence 
went to Cairo. Allenby soon sent for him, and they had an interview at which 
the role of the Arabs in his coming campaign was settled. With the taking of 
Akaba, the liberation of the Hedjaz, and of well beyond it, was completed. 
There was still a Turkish garrison in Medina, but it was locked up there in a 
safe of its own making, reinforced by Arab strategy. The Arabs now could turn 
to the further and greater part of their task, to joining the British Army in 
setting free their Mediterranean patrimony. 

Feisal and Lawrence had settled this between them long before. Lawrence 
went back to Arabia, saw King Hussein at Jeddah, and told him of the 
arrangement made with Allenby by which the Arabs, under Feisal, should form 
the flying right wing of the British forces. Hussein accepted at once the transfer 
of his son and his men to Allenby and, says Lawrence, “took the opportunity to 
stress his complete loyalty to our alliance.” 

Equipment, munitions and funds presently were furnished in generous 
quantities to develop the new fighting-force. Its military role was to protect 
Allenby’ s right, as he advanced, from any Turkish attempt at envelopment from 
the east. In this direction, the Turks possessed an important centre at Maan, on 
the Hedjaz railway, about half-way between Akaba and the Dead Sea. Von 
Falkenhayn himself had gone to Maan to superintend its reconstruction as an 
entrenched camp, where some eight thousand men and proportionate artillery 
and aircraft were stationed. It might have been made a troublesome offensive 

But the result of the Arab action, with which our Air Force combined, 
through the summer and autumn was that Maan was turned into a second 
Medina, into which the Turks recoiled to shelter from eternal forays and 

railway destruction. They locked themselves up there. The continuous loss of 
their railway-engines also “was sore upon the Turks. Since the rolling-stock 
was pooled for Palestine and Hedjaz, our destructions . . . began to pinch the 
army about Jerusalem, just as the British threat grew formidable.” 

At the end of October Allenby struck, taking Beersheba on the last day of 
the month, Jaffa on the 16th of November and Jerusalem on the 9th of 
December. By the end of January, 1918, all southern Palestine west of the Dead 
Sea came under British control. 

In this first stage of the conquest the Arabs had played their part well, and 
had played exactly the part which had been assigned to them. This was true 
both of the forces under Feisal and Lawrence and of the Arabs behind the 
enemy lines in Palestine and the other portions of Syria. It is necessary to 
emphasize this, for in the interests of Zionism every Arab role has been 
minimized or left unmentioned, or even discredited. Zionist commentators have 
a way of contracting all the Arab forces in the field to the single figures of 
Lawrence and of Feisal, and of belittling even these two. “The Anglo-Asian 
adventurer and mystery-monger Colonel T. E. Lawrence,” is Mr. de Haas’s 
description of Lawrence. 

However, the motives of Zionists in this are so evident that it does not 
matter so much what they say or what they leave out. When however their 
British backers adopt the same tactics of depreciation, the matter becomes more 
serious. As a conspicuous example of these tactics may be chosen the words 
spoken in the House of Commons, during the Palestine debate of June, 1937, by 
Mr. Herbert Morrison, the Chairman of the London County Council. “The 
Arabs of Palestine,” said he, “happened to remain passive throughout General 
Allenby’s campaign. I am not complaining that someone remained passive in 
those exciting days, but it upsets the doctrine, so far as Palestine is concerned, 
that there were particular obligations in regard to that territory.” 

In the first place, even if the Arabs of Palestine had remained passive in the 
sense that Mr. Morrison implied, that would have made no difference to the 
obligations of this country towards the Arabs in general. We contracted with all 
the Arabs as a unit, and it was officially recognized by our civil and military 
authorities (as will appear) that the Arabs had carried out their share of the 
contract. That is all that matters legally and in equity. To seek to evade our 
obligations, as Mr. Morrison does, on the supposed grounds that some Arabs 
were remiss, though the Arabs as a whole satisfactorily finished what they 
promised to do, is paltry. Would the London County Council evade paying a 
builder who had erected a block of fiats perfectly to time and to specification, 
on the plea that one batch of his workmen was reported to have been idle? 1 
should like to see the London County Council try to escape payment. There is 
nothing like a homely parallel such as this to show the sophistry of the 
argument used for the larger issue. 

Palestine: The Reality 


But what makes Mr. Morrison’s shift to avoid honouring our engagements a 
really mean shift is the fact that the Arabs of Palestine did not remain passive, 
in any honest understanding of the word. The Arabs of Palestine (to say nothing 
of those who had perished on the scaffold already) now did what Lord Allenby 
required them to do. They were not asked to rise, which Mr. Morrison, for all 
his disclaimer, suggests as the necessary basis of the contract between Britain 
and them. 

Allenby, for several reasons, did not desire the presence of an Arab irregular 
force operating on his own front. For one reason he did not wish his manoeuvres 
complicated by groups of ill-armed peasants not cognizant of his intentions and 
escaping from his orders. And a “rising” would only have been an affair of a 
few poor groups. Palestine had been denuded of its able-bodied young men, 
who had been conscripted into the Turkish Army, and sent to distant fronts. As 
for their elders, Djemaal Pasha had seen to them. The first British official report 
on conditions in Palestine describes how far the country was in a condition to 
provide an insurrection. “When Allenby’s army swept over Palestine,” says the 
relevant passage, “it occupied a country exhausted by war. The population had 
been depleted: the people of the towns were in severe distress: much cultivated 
land was left untilled: the stocks of cattle and horses had fallen to a low ebb: the 
woodlands, always scanty, had almost disappeared: orange-groves had been 
ruined by lack of irrigation: commerce had long been at a standstill.” 

In fine, the farms and the fields were going to ruin because there were no 
men left to till them. Yet Mr. Morrison demands of the missing thousands that 
they should have risen. He argues that people who had been decimated and 
exiled for the cause of the Allies defaulted because they were not there when 
the Allies arrived. 

However — to complete the real picture — apart from the impossibility of a 
rising, the Arab role was fixed in the conferences between the British 
commander and Lawrence. At this first stage of the campaign, it was a triple 
role. Arab soldiers left in the Turkish Army were to be invited to desert, and to 
join Feisal’s forces in the east. The local peasantry was to give any little help it 
could with food-supplies, which of course was very little. The principal 
occupation enjoined for the peasantry was to act as guides to the British troops 
and to serve as spies and intelligence agents, at a capital risk of course. 

These plans were exactly carried out. A proclamation signed by King 
Hussein was dropped in large quantities by our aeroplanes over the Turkish 
lines, calling on any Arab soldiers to “come and join us who are labouring for 
the sake of religion and the freedom of the Arabs so that, if God wills, the Arab 
kingdom may again become what it was during the time of your fathers.” 
(Additional proof that the promise of Arab independence in Palestine was 
acknowledged formally and spread by the British military authorities.) 

The Arabs, as has been seen, were no longer numerous on this front. When 
they had been in greater numbers, in 1916, they had deserted freely. The 

German general Kress von Kressensteifl, who had led the attack on the Suez 
Canal and afterwards had commanded in Sinai, complained of his heavy losses 
from Arab desertion. His Arabs left him and disappeared into the countryside. 
Afterwards when the Arab forces were centred at Akaba for the forward move 
into Palestine many of them joined Feisal. Those of them who were natives of 
Palestine and had been living concealed in their villages were employed now as 
guides and agents on the British front. 

Lawrence’s words concerning the role of these men, and of the population in 
general, are instructive. “We on the Arab front,” he wrote, “were very intimate 
with the enemy. Our Arab officers had been Turkish officers and knew every 
leader on the other side personally. They had suffered the same training, 
thought the same, took the same point of view. By practising modes of 
approach upon the Arabs we could explore the Turks, understand, almost get 
inside their minds. Relations between them and us was almost universal, for the 
civil population of the army area was almost wholly ours without pay or 
persuasion. In consequence our intelligence service was the widest, fullest, and 
most certain imaginable.” Earlier in his book, contrasting the mishandled 
situation in Mesopotamia with that in Palestine, he had written of the “freedom 
of movement and the elasticity of Allenby in Syria, who entered the country as 
a friend, with the local people actively on his side.” 

Under these conditions, then, after the battle of Beersheba, in which Allenby 
and his soldiers showed themselves worthy of one another, the British Army 
took Jerusalem. The news of the victory stirred the whole world. Two days 
later, on the 1 1th of December, Allenby entered the Holy City by the Jaffa gate, 
on foot. 

This reverent, edifying act was barely accomplished there before political 
ambition restored a secular atmosphere in which it was more at home. Allenby 
had brought with him the Sykes-Picot Treaty, almost it might be said in the 
flesh, for both Sir Mark Sykes and M. Picot accompanied him. The parts played 
by the two men however were divergent. It had been Sykes who had suggested 
that the conqueror should enter the city of the Sacred Passion on foot. Picot’s 
very different suggestion is best described in the words of Lawrence, who had 
been summoned to be present. 

After the formal entry lunch was served to the principal personages. “The 
aides pushed about and from great baskets drew a lunch, varied, elaborate and 
succulent. On us fell a short spell of quiet, to be shattered by Monsieur Picot . . 

. who said in his fluting voice, ‘And to-morrow, my dear general, I will take the 
necessary steps to set up civil government in this town.’ ... A silence followed, 
as when they opened the seventh seal in heaven. . . . We turned to Allenby and 
gaped. Even he seemed for the moment at a loss. We began to fear that the idol 
might betray a frailty. But his face grew red: he swallowed, his chin coming 
forward, whilst he said, grimly, ‘In the military zone the only authority is that 
of the commander-in-chief — myself.’ ‘But Sir Grey, Sir Edward Grey . . .’ 

Palestine: The Reality 


stammered Monsieur Picot. He was cut short. ‘ Sir Edward Grey referred to the 
civil government which will be established when 1 judge that the military 
situation permits.’ 

The French Government, whose impulsive mouthpiece had thus been 
checked, still hankered after internationalization of Palestine, or the 
establishment therein of a ruling commission of some kind, of which the 
members would be nominated by Great Britain, France and Italy in the first 
instance, neutral Powers coming in later perhaps, as it were after allotment. 

The British Government had not said no to this plan. It was involved in it 
under the Sykes-Picot pact, but it was equally involved in opposition to it under 
the Zionist bargain. That M. Picot should have stammered out to Allenby “Sir 
Grey’s” name as a warranty for an international regime was topsy-turvy 
enough, since, as we have seen, Sir Edward Grey had started discounting such a 
regime in his memorandum to Russia of a year and nine months before. 

But being involved on behalf of and against a plan at the same time 
necessarily produced a certain indefiniteness of attitude in the British 
Government. It remained silent when the French Foreign Minister declared in 
the Chamber of Deputies, a fortnight after the capture of Jerusalem, that neither 
France nor Britain would govern in Palestine, but that there would be set up 
there an international regime, one, he added reassuringly, “ fait de justice et de 
liberte.” And Mr. Stein, who mentions this, also chronicles a statement of Mr. 
Page, then United States Ambassador to Great Britain, that as far as he could 
ascertain the British Government did wish Palestine to be internationalized. 

This internationalization implied that Palestine was to have control of its 
own local affairs, as Page understood, but that “some Great Power or number of 
Powers should see to it that none of the races that live there should be allowed 
to impose upon the other races.” The terminology makes it evident that the 
Ambassador had been talking to Lord Balfour, and innocently had absorbed the 
latter’s agile method of evicting the Arabs from the occupation of their native 
land. Balfour’s pet project, which he pursued with some persistence because of 
its unrealizable charm, also was repeated to Page, that is, to install the United 
States in Palestine to take the position of what came to be known later as a 
Mandatory. Not that he ever expected this to occur. There would not have been 
much object in issuing his Declaration unless it was Great Britain who was to 
be suzerain in Palestine. But Balfour liked to play with the idea of an American, 
or a joint Anglo-American suzerainty. 

All his Palestine schemes came under this intellectually recreative heading. 
He drew an interest from them akin to the study he gave to a Royal Society 
experiment, some altogether fascinating experiment with untried components 
and an impudent formula. He believed perhaps that his heart had gone out to 
the cause of the Jews. But a closer analysis would have shown that his interest 
in Zionists resembled a chemist’s interest in chlorides or what not. He watched 

them lovingly in the Palestine retort, hoping to extract from them all sorts of 
dazzling precipitates which chlorides had never yielded before. 

The peril of the man was that no one knew when he was entertaining 
himself with politics and when he was putting up with politics, which latter was 
the period in which he accomplished his true political work. Also when he was 
on the track of an experiment he was ruthless with unwanted factors. The Arabs 
were so much dirt in his dish, and he cleaned it free of them before he put in his 
first Zionist dilutes. 

In this strain of mind no doubt he talked engagingly to Mr. Page about 
American or Anglo-American “internationalization” of the territory which was 
coming under British control. But he knew at heart that there would be no 

Allenby’s bluff impromptu to Picot probably saved the Government a good 
deal of trouble. After all a military administration was the only one possible or 
permissible for the moment, and this could be prolonged on one plea or on 
another till the French had been persuaded out of their present intentions. 

The military occupation of the country, despite its being as yet incomplete, 
brought things to a new stage. Two problems were presented immediately: the 
reaction of the Arabs and the reaction of the Zionists to the opening-up of 
Palestine. London would have overlooked the Arabs, but for the first time, it 
may be said, the Arabs were beginning to show symptoms of doubt, or were 
making inquiries which verged on doubt. Lawrence had encountered the 
absolute beginnings of doubt in the Hedjaz the previous year, as has been 
described. But that was a private issue, which he settled there and then. Now 
there were signs of the matter being brought to public view. The Arabs 
manifested some inclination not to be overlooked. 

As soon as the text of the Balfour Declaration reached Egypt a committee of 
the leaders of the Syrian or Arab community in Cairo, a very important and 
representative body, sent a deputation to protest against its terms. 

It was not surprising that they protested as soon as they read the Balfour 
document. They saw the implications in it before anyone else did, but this was 
not merely a feat of insight, because they had a very different document to 
compare with it. This was a pledge given them, a confirmation to them of the 
Arab independence already promised to King Hussein, which they had received 
on the 11th of the previous June (1918) from the British Government through 
the High Commissioner. This assured them that pre-War Arab states and Arab 
areas freed by military action of their inhabitants should remain entirely 
independent, “subject to the interests of France.” 

Fawrence writes of it “at this juncture the British Cabinet, in joyous style, 
gave with the left hand also. They promised to the Arabs, or rather to an 
unauthorized committee of seven Gothamites” (Fawrence never cared for urban 
Arabs) “in Cairo, that the Arabs should keep for their own the territory they 
conquered from Turkey in the War. The glad news circulated over Syria.” 

Palestine: The Reality 


Allenby, as we know, arranged that the Arab forces should be placed on his 
right wing as a definite part of his army, and as a part of that army they 
conquered Palestine. It is well to interpolate this in case Mr. Morrison might 
argue that because they were not in the centre or on the left wing therefore they 
did not free the territory conquered in centre or left by Allenby’s army. 

As a matter of fact, these seven Arabs were not all civilian Gothamite 
wiseacres. Several of them were Arab officers who had deserted from the Turks 
and were interned in Egypt till the opportunity of creating a regular Arab force 
arrived. They were members of the Ahad Society. One such was an officer 
named Aziz Ali. Among the civilian members of the committee were, I believe, 
MM. Iskandar Amoon, Rashid Rida, Rafeek al Athem and Kamel Kassab. 

In January the Balfour Declaration was communicated to King Hussein, that 
is to say a copy was taken to Jeddah and was shown to him. This act, by the 
way, contains its own significance. If Palestine had lain outside the area in 
which he had contracted for Arab independence, why show him this effusion? 
Details concerning the really excluded areas (that is those in the French sphere) 
were not communicated to him, so there can be no excuse put forward that he 
was shown all documents dealing with areas where any Arabs lived, as a mark 
of courtesy or goodwill. The communications he received dealt with matters 
which rose between the British Government and himself in the areas covered by 
his pact with Sir Henry McMahon. So the very fact that the Balfour Declaration 
was shown to him at all is a subsidiary proof that Palestine, to which it related, 
was one of these areas, and therefore was one of the areas promised 

King Hussein was not so quick as the Cairo Committee to perceive the 
implications of the Balfour document. The fact was that he paid no real 
attention to it, trusting, poor man, to his treaty with us. Hogarth says that “he 
took it philosophically, contenting himself with an expression of goodwill 
towards a kindred Semitic race, which he understood (as his phrase made clear) 
was to lodge in a house occupied by the Arabs.” 

He imagined that the Jews who came to Palestine would be citizens of the 
Arab State, and, as upon a previous occasion, those who visited him did not 
dare nor care to undeceive him. It is to be remembered that the Declaration, too, 
will have been translated into Arabic for him, and in the translation the 
fraudulence of its text may have been hidden. 

But the real trouble was to come upon the Arab front. The revolutionary 
Government of Russia had found the Sykes-Picot Treaty in the national 
archives and had published it. Through the Germans this had reached the Turks 
quickly. The division of Syria according to the desires of the Powers, without 
reference to the Arabs, was a terrible revelation of bad faith, whatever 
extenuating circumstances may have accompanied it. Djemaal Pasha “read the 
most spiteful paragraphs at a banquet at Beyrout” (Lawrence), and conveyed 
the whole text to Feisal through the Turkish lines. 

But Lawrence, as we have seen, had by now told Feisal of the Sykes-Picot 
Treaty, and Feisal was inwardly armed against it. The Turkish disclosures, 
though, and perhaps the Balfour Declaration, clearer to others than to Hussein, 
on top of it, spread the knowledge of what had occurred beyond Feisal and his 
immediate circle. In later days he himself told Mrs. Steuart Erskine of what was 
the result. The Arab forces were now all concentrated at Akaba when the Turks 
sent the news through. “Feisal, who” (says Mrs. Steuart Erskine) “spoke to me 
at some length about this crisis, said that a wave of indignation swept over the 
army which had already accomplished so much in the cause of the Allies, and 
that it nearly ended in an insurrection. As a result of the high tension he 
telegraphed to his father, saying that he could not continue the war in these 

King Hussein, through the British representative at Jeddah, Colonel Basset, 
sent at once a demand to London to know whether it was true that the British 
Government proposed to partition Syria in contradiction to the terms of the 
treaty he had signed, and whether or not the British Government would abide 
by that treaty. On the 8th of February, 1918, Colonel Basset sent from Jeddah 
the reply of the Government. It had been dispatched by Lord Balfour as Foreign 
Secretary. It is another of the notable documents of the Palestine question. Here 
is a translation of the text, sent of course to King Hussein in Arabic, into which 
it had been turned in Cairo. It is not presented as a letter-for-letter version of the 
English text, which has not been made public; but is taken from a literal version 
in English of the Arabic text Hussein received. 

I have been ordered by the Viceroy [that is, the High Commissioner] 
of His Britannic Majesty to communicate to Your Majesty the cable 
which has been received by His Excellency from the Foreign Office in 
London. The British Government has addressed the cable directly to 
Your Majesty. Its text is as follows: “The goodwill and perfect fra nk ness 
which Your Majesty had displayed in forwarding to the Viceroy the 
correspondence sent by the Turkish commander in Syria to His Highness 
the Emir Feisal and to Jafaar Pasha has made an excellent impression 
upon the Government of His Britannic Majesty. The action which Your 
Majesty has taken in this matter is but another proof of the friendship and 
the frankness of intercourse to which the close relations between the 
Hedjaz Government and His Britannic Majesty’s Government have 
always testified. It is scarcely necessary to point out that the aim of 
Turkish policy is to create doubt and dissension between the Allies and 
the Arabs, who are assembled under the wise leadership and good 
guardianship of Your Majesty to exert their energy to regain their ancient 
freedom. Turkish policy continues to sow this dissension by false and 
evil insinuations to the Arabs, such as that the Allies intend to occupy 
Arab territories, in the hope that the Arabs thereby will be influenced to 
alter their plans of action and to abandon the goal which they have set 


Palestine: The Reality 

themselves. But the intrigues of provocative persons should not be 
allowed to rouse discord between those who are joined in a single hope 
and a single purpose. 

The Government of His Britannic Majesty and its Allies remain 
steadfast to the policy of helping any movement which aims at setting 
free those nations which are oppressed. It adheres to its decision to stand 
by the side of the Arab nations in their struggle to create an Arab world 
in which law and the Shar’ shall replace Ottoman oppression, and to defy 
the industrial competition which the official Turkish institutions have 
engendered. The Government of His Britannic Majesty repeats its 
previous promise in respect of the freedom and the emancipation of the 
Arab peoples. The Government of His Britannic Majesty has always 
adopted and pursued a policy of emancipation, and intends by a 
straightforward and determined maintenance of this policy to preserve 
those Arabs who have not yet been set free from the disaster of falling 
back into their former condition, as well as to aid those Arabs who are 
still under the yoke of the oppressor to win their freedom. 

I do not know how far the reader will find the preamble of the Government 
message sincere. However, the important point in the reply is that in the 
passage which I have italicized, reproduced exactly from the original, the 
Government guaranteed again the fulfilment of the pact with Hussein. “The 
Government of His Britannic Majesty repeats its previous promise” — nothing 
could be more explicit. The previous promise was “to recognize and support the 
independence of the Arabs within the territories included in the limits and 
boundaries proposed by the Shereef of Mecca.” So beside the solemn promise 
of 1915-16 there is the official confirmation by the Foreign Secretary of 1918. 

It makes no difference that the guarantee was given by Lord Balfour within 
three months of the issue of his Declaration which set out to prevent that 
guarantee’s fulfilment. Whether he and his companions in the Cabinet meant to 
fulfil it or not, they gave this confirmation to the Arabs, in order to retain them 
as allies, and thereby they engaged their country’s faithfulness, if they had none 
of their own. From that day the scandal of the treatment of the Arabs grew 

King Hussein was so satisfied with Lord Balfour’s assurances, as well he 
might have been on the face of them, that he sent a sharp message to Feisal. 
“He said that the realization of the Arabs’ aspirations was guaranteed by his 
honour and by the honour of his family, ending his message with these words, 
‘If you do not continue the war 1 shall consider you a traitor.’ ” (Steuart 

Feisal may have telegraphed to his father in a moment of discouragement 
that he could not continue the war, but it is more likely that he did so to stir 
Hussein and to obtain through him such a renewal of the British pledge as the 
King received. This would be more in keeping with Lawrence’s account of 
Palestine: The Reality 

Feisal’s mind and policy at the time. One way or another, the British response 
having been received, the Arab army continued its share in the campaign. 

A plan had been drawn up between Allenby and Lawrence, who had already 
discussed it with Feisal, by which the Arabs were to advance from Akaba when 
railway communications had advanced enough to ensure supplies and if 
possible to arrive at the Jordan before the end of March. In a raid they burned 
the lighters and launches of the Turks and stopped water -traffic on the Dead 
Sea before January was over. Jafaar Pasha trained a nucleus of an Arab regular 
army: there were some four battalions of them in February. On the 28th of this 
month further and more elaborate plans for the Arabs were concerted. But as 
the spring advanced the possibility of carrying out the advance into northern 
Palestine and to Damascus faded away. Troops were taken from Allenby, as 
from Murray, for the Western Front, then endangered by a German offensive. 
On 5th of May Allenby told Lawrence the Arabs would just have to hold on for 
the present. 

He softened this blow by allotting to them two thousand riding camels 
which the dissolution of a Sinai force had put at his disposal. This was the chief 
of a number of allocations of personnel, material and stores to his Arab right, to 
which he now gave considerable trust. To the Arab political cause Allenby 
made a species of gift too, a negative one perhaps but having its value. He 
would not have the Balfour Declaration published in Palestine. 

Arabs in official positions, those who read British newspapers, and others 
such got to know of it, of course, and as far as they could, began at once to 
attack it. But from the mass of the people it was kept hid, though there was 
Zionist complaint of this. “No official instruction seems to have been given by 
Whitehall in London to General Headquarters in Cairo as to bringing their 
action into accord with the new idealist character which the Palestine offensive, 
in view of the Balfour Declaration, had acquired.” ( Zionist Official Report.) 
The new idealist character! A pleasant concept, this, of Allenby and his 
mundane army being regenerated by the Balfour Declaration. 

Mr. Graves suggests that the Declaration was not published (it was only 
proclaimed in Palestine after two years had passed) because “when the result of 
the War was in grave doubt it was not a fitting moment to make any official 
proclamation of our intentions as regards hostile territory.” What of the Balfour 
Declaration then? For whom too was a proclamation not fitting? For the 
enemy? The enemy had spread it about the world as widely as the enemy’s 
wireless-service permitted. For the nations of Europe? For India? For the 
American continent? They all knew it from universal publication in the Press. 

The only people who could be, and were ignorant of the Declaration were 
the inhabitants of Palestine and the adjacent war-zones, who probably had not 
ten wireless-sets between them nor any access to newspapers. So that Mi - . 
Graves unintentionally leads us to the chief reason why the Declaration was not 
published, which, as it happens, the Zionists themselves have confessed. As 


they put it, “There can be no doubt but that General Allenby knew by the time 
that such a Declaration had been issued. But the military authorities obviously 
thought that any official mention of that fact in the newly conquered territory 
might mar the j ubilation of certain sections of the population. Naturally anxious 
to avoid any friction which might hinder the freedom of further military 
operations, they preferred to abstain from any mention of the fact that the 
British Government had promised to support Zionist aspirations.” ( Zionist 
Official Report.) 

There is one part of the truth expressed with some marvellous phraseology. 
In plain English, the Government had issued a Declaration so high-handed, so 
improper that it would have been a danger to the progress of the army. It had to 
be suppressed. 

The general evidence points to Allenby having suppressed it himself. There 
is reason to believe too that while he felt that publication of it would have 
injured his campaign, there was a stronger reason still for his action. He did not 
think it was legitimate for him to publish it, because it contravened the Hague 
Convention to which Great Britain had subscribed. Under the Hague 
Convention an occupying army must not introduce a new political regime. 
(This question will be treated fully in a later chapter.) 

However that be, the non-publication of the Declaration introduces an 
unescapable dilemma. If Allenby suppressed it himself, the Government had to 
be censored by its own forces in the field. If it was suppressed by order or 
agreement of the Government then the Government knew the Declaration was a 
betrayal of the Arabs, and preferred to conceal it from them till their country 
was in the Government’s control. 


The Zionist Commission in Palestine — Close of the War — The Arabs’ military 
achievement — The Joint Anglo-French Proclamation promising Independence to 
the Arab populations. 

The second problem before the Government when Allenby occupied 
southern Palestine was how to content the Zionists, who expected immediate 
results from the Balfour Declaration, and results in Palestine. But the occupied 
portion of that country was little more than a military camp, and the Declaration 
itself was an obstacle to victory, and could not be proclaimed there. So it was 
not too easy to find a means of beginning the installation of the National Home. 

However, a plan was evolved between the Zionists and the Foreign 
Secretary or was drawn from pigeon-holes where it had been waiting. This was 
to send into the occupied territory a delegation of the Zionist bodies in Great 
Britain and the Allied countries. This delegation could be given a free hand in 
Palestine, if it took upon itself the organization of succour for the Jewish 

colonies, which had suffered so severely during the War, and of other kindred 
benevolent activities. 

This does not mean that the programme was all a piece of window-dressing. 
The little Jewish community did need relief very badly, and their fellow -Jews 
of course were genuinely anxious to purvey it to them. This part of the 
programme was entirely sincere. But the advantage of it was that if the 
delegates’ terms-of-reference were made loose enough, then they could extend 
their situation by and by, could involve themselves in the administrative 
system, and in sum could form the nucleus of a future Jewish establishment 
with governmental attributes. 

The delegation was to be known as the Zionist Commission. When Lord 
Balfour made the first announcement of its functions in the House of Lords, he 
declared that these would be “to investigate the present condition of the Jewish 
colonies in Palestine, to organize relief-work and to supervise reparation of 
damage done to Zionist colonies during the War, in so far as circumstances will 

But before the Commission left England in March, the necessary change 
was made to enable it to slip from benevolence into political activity. This was 
most ingeniously done, by granting to the Commission supplementary terms-of- 
reference masked as a “definition of status.” In order supposedly that both the 
Army authorities and the Delegation itself should know where the latter stood, 
it was announced from the Foreign Office that the Zionist Commission was “to 
represent the Zionist Organization in Palestine and act as an advisory body to 
the British authorities there in all matters relating to Jews or which may effect 
the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people in accordance with 
the Declaration of His Majesty’s Government.” 

These second and effective terms-of-reference were everything that the 
Zionists could have dreamt, if they ever dreamt instead of making specific 
arrangements. In the first instance the new Commission was placed in quasi- 
authority over all Jews in Palestine, since it was made the intermediary between 
them and the British administrators. Advantage was taken of the war-conditions 
to give the members of the Commission an illegal status. The Jews in Palestine 
were of various nationalities, about half being Turkish subjects by now perhaps. 
As Turkish subjects these Jews should have shared the lot of the other ex- 
enemy subjects, the Arabs, pending the formation of a new regime on the 
conclusion of peace. 

If the Jews were of other nationalities, then their recourse in 
communications with the temporary British Army authority lay through their 
consuls, in accordance too with the Capitulations, if they were nationals of a 
Capitulatory Power. 

Instead of this a Commission of Zionists was appointed themselves of a 
variety of nationalities. Dr. Weizmann was Chairman. The other British 
members were Messrs. Joseph Cowen, Eder and Leon Simon. Professor 

Palestine: The Reality 


Sylvain Levi came from France. Two Italians, Commendatore Bianchini and 
Signor Artom, joined later. (The United States Zionists did not appoint 
members because the United States was not at war with Turkey. Mr. Walter 
Meyer acted unofficially as an American “observer,” in the Geneva manner.) 
Their sphere of action was so vaguely and widely indicated — “in all matters 
relating to Jews or which may affect the establishment of a national home for 
the Jewish people” — that the Commission could claim upon pretty well any 
issue in which a Jew was or would be concerned that they were the persons 
indicated by the Government to handle it. 

The Jews of Palestine were extra-territorialized in this way: they got back 
that “internal autonomy” which had been removed from the too fra nk earlier 
drafts of the Balfour Declaration. They were taken from the ranks of the Syrian 
population at large and were put into the care of the Commission. They could 
always say in any juncture that the Commission had been appointed to “advise” 
the Administration on their behalf, without any intervention of native 
authorities, if the latter by any chance were established. In all “matters relating 
to the national home” any authority but British or Zionist was eradicated. Thus, 
by the proverbial pen-stroke though their name was not mentioned even, the 
unfortunate Arabs again were deprived carefully and in advance, of that 
independent control of their soil which was their natural inheritance and had 
been secured to them by formal and repeated engagements. 

Zionists everywhere, regaled with rights which had been taken from the 
Arabs, did all they could for their Commission’s success. Behind the scenes, 
Judge Brandeis had thrown himself “with great vim into the task of helping the 
Commission to proceed to Palestine.” (de Haas.) “He regarded this move as a 
recognition in substance.” The United States Zionist Organization, explains Mr. 
de Haas, “freely supplied Dr. Weizmann with money, just as it had liberally 
financed the political tasks of the English organization the previous year.” 

“Equally unostentatiously Brandeis began the draft of a charter for the future 
Jewish homeland.” This covered the general objectives of the Commission. 
Land, water-rights, all other natural resources and all concessions, he wrote, 
“must be secured for the whole Jewish people.” There was to be no exploitation 
by individuals: the Commission was to guard against this. 

With these recommendations, or instructions, in its dispatch-boxes the 
Commission arrived in Palestine early in April. By now the trend of events was 
growing evident to the Arabs of Palestine, and as the aims of the Commission 
became still clearer, through its members’ own speeches and actions after 
landing, the Arabs began to protest. It is well to record this, because it is 
sometimes alleged that the Arabs were contented to accept Zionism at the 
beginning, and only took up a hostile attitude under various influences later on. 
That was not so. The Arabs protested as much as they could from the start, but 
they were cut off in their corner of the world. The War was being waged there; 

censorship controlled the cables. Such news as came from there was only 
military news sent by a couple of correspondents attached to the forces. 

What made more galling the inability of the Arabs to present their position 
to world-opinion was that the Zionist Commission, by Government 
arrangement, was granted the freedom of the military cables and telegraphs and 
telephones. The Arabs were gagged, through lack of machinery to publish their 
case: all the machinery which existed was put at the Zionists’ disposition for 
their communications in Palestine and from Palestine throughout the world. It is 
only too characteristic of the Arabs’ lot that their enforced silence should have 
been used as proof of their indifference, or even welcome, to Zionism. 

But the Arabs did react as best they could, though their complaints remained 
unknown outside the country. Dr. Canaan records that a formal protest was laid 
before the High Commissioner in Egypt immediately after the publication of 
the Balfour Declaration. 

The relations of the Commission with British G.H.Q. had been cordial at the 
beginning, but soon enough they disimproved. Representations had to be made 
to its members asking them to curtail their political activities and to have less to 
say upon the preponderant situation which the Government had accorded to the 
Zionist body in Palestine. The response was remarkable. “The Commission 
fully aware of the exigencies of the military situation, agreed that friction in the 
country might handicap operations, and that a lull display of the Government’s 
pro-Zionist attitude had better be postponed till after the victory.” (Z.O.R.) 
Here is the truth nakedly exposed. 

So the activities of the Commission had to be limited on the surface to 
relief-work (this work was excellently carried out), and to Jewish organization, 
which was not quite so innocent, since it involved preparations for creating a 
“Jewish Constituent Assembly.” Another act was the laying of the foundation- 
stone of the Hebrew University on Mount Scopus by Dr. Weizmann. 

Under the auspices of the Commission the “Jews of Jaffa and Jerusalem” 
held a conference at the former town in June to make arrangements for the 
summoning of the “Constituent Assembly.” Amongst those present was Mr. 
(then Major) Ormsby-Gore. His invitation to the Zionists made at Covent 
Garden in December (“in the future, if you are looking out for a friend, count 
me as one of them”) had been answered promptly. When the Commission left 
London he was attached to it as “Political Officer,” and accompanied it all over 
Palestine. The Commission had power to go where it pleased through the 
occupied area, and moved about in a semiofficial manner. 

The Commission could even obtain travelling (and commercial) facilities for 
persons not belonging to it. More than three years later this fact was cited in the 
official Haycraft Report as one of the early causes of Arab discontent. Those 
whom the Commission recommended, who naturally were Zionist Jews, 
“enjoyed greater facilities than Arabs in the matter of obtaining permits to 
travel on military railways and to import merchandise by them, owing to the 

Palestine: The Reality 


fact that the Zionist Commission was accepted by the Administration as 
sponsor for the Jews.” 

To return to the Jaffa Conference. Mr. Ormsby-Gore’s presence there was 
taken as giving an official British patronage to the meeting. That to give this 
patronage was his intention was evident when he rose to make a speech, in 
which he referred to the information he would lay before the Government when 
he returned to England. “What do we understand by the Jewish National 
Home?” said he. “We mean that those Jews who voluntarily come to live in 
Palestine should live in Palestine as Jewish Nationalists ” [my italics] “that is, 
that they should be regarded as Jews and nothing else, and that they should be 
absolutely free to develop Hebrew education, to develop the country, and live 
their own life in their Own way in Palestine freely, but only submitting equally 
with all others to the law of the land. ... 1 can say (to the British Government) 
when 1 go back that whether you come from Russia, from Salonica, from 
Bokhara, from Poland, from America, from England, or from the Yemen, you 
are bound together in Palestine by the ideal of building up a Jewish nation in all 
its various aspects in Palestine, a national centre for Jewry all over the world to 
look to. This is the ideal of the future, an ideal which 1 am convinced will be 
realized without doing any injustice or injury to any of your neighbours here.” 

The final paragraph of this oration shows that Mr. Ormsby-Gore was in no 
ignorance of the complaints of the Arabs. He followed the Balfour method of 
falsifying the situation by speaking as though the Jews had a number of 
environing races around them — “any of your neighbours here” — so that the real 
issue between the solitary components, the one great Arab majority and the one 
tiny Jewish minority, might, as so often, be sloughed over. That he could be 
convinced that the Zionists were not doing an injustice to the Arabs when 
manifestly they were ousting them from the control of the country only serves 
to show the character of his convictions. But the main interest of his words lies 
in his acknowledgment, one of a kind which cannot be too often tracked down, 
that the idea of all present was the building-up of “a Jewish nation in all its 
aspects,” and that Jews in Palestine were to be Jews and nothing else. 

He continued by asking his hearers to ‘be patient with the British 
Government,” which by international law was obliged to carry on the Turkish 
system of rule, so long as the administration remained military. His peroration 
began with an announcement which deserves to make the name of Ormsby- 
Gore famous for ever: “The Zionist movement is not merely a political move, 
but a spiritual force.” 

There was an allusion in his speech to the Jewish recruits who now were 
being enrolled, drawn from the youth of the Jewish colonies. So it is a 
convenient moment to speak of the Jewish military effort, by which 1 do not 
mean the service of those Jews who fought side by side with Gentiles in the 
ordinary forces of the Allies, but the special units which were raised as a sequel 
to the Zionist policy of the British Government and especially in reward for the 

Balfour Declaration. Earlier in the War a mule transport-corps, about 500 
strong, had been recruited amidst the Jewish refugees from Palestine in Egypt, 
and had done fine work at Gallipoli. Mr. Vladimir Jabotinsky and Mr. Pinhas 
Rutenberg, both of whom for different reasons were to win much later 
notoriety, had agitated at the time for a Jewish legion. Mr. Jabotinsky wrote to 
The Times to advocate it. But they did not get support, and the mule -corps was 
the sole result. 

Mr. Jabotinsky, a man of determination, stuck to his idea however and after 
the issue of the Balfour Declaration he now gained the backing of the Zionist 
Organization and finally of the War Office. It was intended at first to create a 
“Jewish Regiment.” “Jabotinsky and the Zionists were agog with delight,” says 
Mr. Horace Samuel, 1 who served as an officer in the unit when it was formed, 
and provides a detached account of Its activities. “They saw in the Jewish 
Regiment the nucleus of a Jewish army, which, having won Palestine, would 
then garrison it so as to keep the Arabs permanently in order.” Just so. 

But strong Jewish influence in London, the same influence which had 
fought in vain for the reasonable Wolf programme in Palestine, the Montagus, 
Montefiores, Magnuses and other leaders whose names have been cited, 
struggled, this time with greater success, against the formation of a “Jewish 
Regiment.” They knew the intentions which lay behind it and they resented the 
segregation of Jewish soldiers from other soldiers of the Empire. So instead a 
Jewish battalion of the Royal Fusiliers was created, the 38th, under the 
command of a Gentile, Lieutenant-Colonel Patterson, who had commanded the 
Gallipoli mule -corps. It contained a mixture of Jewish and of Gentile officers. 
“A few Jewish officers were Zionist, a few were definitely anti-Zionist.” 
(Horace Samuel.) 

After an imposing send-off from the City of London, the battalion, which 
contained American Zionist volunteers, crossed Europe and shipped from 
Taranto to Alexandria. “On the 1st of March the regiment made through the 
streets of that city one of those self-advertising marches which were always one 
of its chief characteristics,” says Mr. Samuel. “For, so far as the Jewish 
regiment was concerned, not merely fighting but propaganda, was the thing. As 
Jabotinsky himself once remarked: ‘We are not merely a regiment — we are a 
political performing company. ’ ” 

The battalion went into training in Alexandria and later on was joined by 
another battalion, the 39th. There were some difficulties with Russian-born 
privates who when Russia abandoned the war thought they might follow suit, 
but “the officers and N.C.O.s managed to preserve the morale of the regiment,” 
and in June it was moved into the line on the Nablus road, about twenty miles 
from Jerusalem. “It held with adequate efficiency for a few weeks the villages 
of Abwein and Jiljilia.” 

1 In ‘ Unholy Memoirs of the Holy Land.’ 

Palestine: The Reality 


To follow Mr. Samuel’s account, he was drafted back at the expiry of this 
period to Cairo to take command of a company of the Palestinian recruits, 
mentioned in his speech by Mr. Ormsby-Gore, who declared frankly of them 
that they would go “as missionaries of Jewish nationalism m Palestine.” “They 
were very different stuff,” says Mr. Samuel, “from their brethren who had been 
conscripted in London. They were out for fighting. They were anxious to drive 
out the Turk, and then constitute a permanent Jewish garrison amid a hostile 
Arab majority.” More evidence commended to the reader. 

The further history of the recruits may be found by the curious in Mr. 
Horace Samuel’s pages. 1 may say that he, who served as a judicial officer for 
two years in Palestine after the War ended, is not a foe of Zionism, whom it has 
served my purpose to quote. 1 believe he is a Zionist, but, as 1 have said, 
somewhat detached. He is no particular friend of the Arabs, holding for 
example the opinion that if the Army had faced up to the Arabs from the 
beginning and really “impressed on all and sundry that the policy of the Balfour 
Declaration was the unalterable policy of the British Government,” then “there 
would have been an end of the whole matter.” 

“So far as the Palestinians were concerned,” says he, “it was certainly 
unfortunate that the War came to an end so soon, and that they were never 
given an opportunity of active service. 1 think it fair to assume that that very 
superfluity of patriotism which made, them so undisciplined in camp would 
have made them correspondingly heroic in the actual field.” With which most 
will be disposed to agree. 

The Fusilier battalions took a creditable share in the final offensive in 
Palestine, not a prominent one perhaps, but as soldiers they had to act under 
orders in the positions allotted to them and they did as well as their 
opportunities permitted. Sir Ronald Storrs records the extraordinary gallantry of 
one of their scouts. The 38th and 39th battalions lost an officer and thirty-seven 
men. There would be no reason to mention the matter of the whole Zionist (not 
Jewish) military effort at all, save that one might be accused of leaving it out in 
order to exalt the Arab accomplishment. And it does provide evidence of those 
early Zionist aims of armed occupation of Palestine which it is so necessary to 

By the summer the Commission was working amidst an Arab population 
now quite antagonistic to it. “The Arabs of Palestine, backed by the sympathy 
of Arabs everywhere, assumed an attitude of sullen opposition.” “The Zionist 
Commission, which had been in Palestine since March” (this should be April) 
“had, through its vigorous activity, aroused the anger of all the local population. 
Indeed the repulsion against the immigrant foe was goaded on by Arabs far 
beyond the boundaries of Palestine — those who had followed the tragic efforts 
for independence.” (Andrews.) 

The adjective “tragic” in this American estimate is no misnomer. It is a 
curious commentary upon it that while the Zionist Commission, mindful no 

doubt of Judge Brandeis’s behests, was thus pursuing its course, Judge 
Brandeis’s friend the President had issued his “Fourteen Points” address to 
Congress, of which the twelfth point directly affected Palestine. These 
celebrated points were to be the piles on which the platform of peace was to be 
constructed, according to the idea of Mr. Wilson. The twelfth point ran: “The 
Turkish portions of the present Ottoman Empire should be assured a secure 
sovereignty, but the other nationalities which are now under Turkish rule 
should be assured an undoubted security of life and an absolutely unmolested 
opportunity of autonomous development .” [My italics.] 

This declaration, made in January, reached the occupied part of Palestine 
through foreign and Egyptian newspapers and so became known to the Arabs. 
Versions of it, altered and magnified no doubt by passing from mouth to mouth, 
were circulating generally when the Zionist Commission arrived. The 
contradiction between President Wilson’s promise of self-government and the 
peripatetic sample of Zionist government which they beheld increased the 
rising dissatisfaction of the Arabs. In July Mr. Wilson endorsed his previous 
statement in a speech containing the following words: 

The settlement of every question whether of territory, of sovereignty, 
of economic arrangement, or of political relationship (should be) upon 
the basis of the free acceptance of that settlement by the people 
immediately concerned, and not upon the basis of the material interest or 
advantage of any other nation or people which may desire a different 
settlement for the sake of its own exterior influence or mastery. 

This sentence might have been composed specially to rebuke our 
Government and the Zionists, whose aims for Palestine were in such 
contradiction to the principles therein laid down. I cannot find whether this 
Presidential announcement became known in the occupied territory before 
Allenby began his great final offensive in September. The chances are that it 
did not become known, but I place it here where it belongs chronologically and 
where it helps to illustrate how blandly the noblest sentiments can be ignored, 
even by those who have uttered them. For, fresh from his Twelfth Point and 
from this declaration President Wilson within two months wrote a letter to 
Rabbi Stephen Wise, President of the American Zionist Federation, in which he 
spoke of “the satisfaction I have felt in the progress made by the Zionist 
movement in the United States and in the Allied countries since the declaration 
by Mr. Balfour on behalf of the British Government.” It is true, of course, that 
the President as yet had only the haziest ideas of conditions in Palestine. 

He drew his information from his pro-Zionist intimates, who saw no 
connection between the Fourteen Points and Palestine. Judge Brandeis, besides 
supporting the dispatch of the Zionist Commission had been busy developing a 
whole programme of action — and other things. “No publicity was given to the 
organization (by Brandeis) at the beginning of 1918 of a group devoted to a 

Palestine: The Reality 


careful study of the resources of Palestine, and a survey from historic sources of 
the boundaries of Palestine together with an estimate of the boundaries that in 
view of economic conditions would best serve the purpose of a large Jewish 
settlement. Illustrative of the view of the British and the American 
Governments’ interest in the Jewish Homeland is the fact that the boundaries 
projected in New York in 1918 included the El Arish section of the Sinai 
Peninsula, extending eastward to the line of the Hedjaz railroad, and north from 
Tyre to a line skirting the Hermon, thus including the whole of the Jordan 
watershed.” (de Haas.) Presumably what Mr. de Haas understands by 
“illustrative of the British and the American Governments’ interest in the 
Jewish Homeland” is that the said Governments would be satisfied to let their 
Zionist friends in New York design the boundaries of Palestine as 
imaginatively as they pleased. The actual map-maker was a Mr. Moisseiff, who 
must rank amongst thwarted inventors. 

From this unpublicized activity Mr. Brandeis went on to the preparation of 
the programme of the Zionist Convention held that summer in Pittsburg. “It 
was the apogee of American Zionism.” (de Haas.) The first of the five clauses 
of this programme may be quoted now: “We declare for political and civil 
equality irrespective of race, sex, or faith, of all the inhabitants of the land 

Whatever happened to the other clauses, this primary one was struck rapidly 
as a match, lit nothing, and was thrown away. 

The Pittsburg Convention and the Jaffa Conference preceded a military 
council held by Allenby, at which he determined that he would make a general 
offensive upon the Turkish Army in Palestine in late September. He was 
receiving reinforcements from Mesopotamia and India now, and felt that a 
general attack might be ventured. 

But like most great military strokes, it was a venture. Some of the conditions 
enforced upon Allenby made his plans hazardous. He was obliged to launch his 
main attack upon his left, in the coast-lands, because only there did the railway 
enable the necessary supplies to be gathered. “This seemed so obvious that he 
could not dream of the Turks staying blind, though momentarily their 
dispositions ignored it.” (Lawrence.) The Turks were indeed very weak towards 
the coast: they were of opinion apparently that the attack would come from the 
British right, extended by the Arab forces. Success, as Lawrence says, hung on 
maintaining them in this fatal mis-appreciation, for which end the Arab units 
were of paramount importance, since it would be the business of the Arabs to 
press the enemy as though the attack was to come from their direction. But 
Lawrence was warned that the Arabs must not be engaged in a position from 
which they could not escape, since if the Turks got wind of what was afoot and 
withdrew a few miles on the coast the British forces would be left with all its 
“railways, heavy artillery, dumps, stores, camps misplaced, and without orange- 
groves in which to mask its concentration next time.” 

Feisal and Lawrence therefore had no easy situation to handle with their 
Arabs. In Lawrence’s case things were complicated at this critical juncture by 
the conviction, which daunted his energies every other while, that the Arabs 
might be betrayed of the independence for which they were fighting. “And for 
honour, had I not lost that a year ago when I assured the Arabs that England 
kept her plighted word.” 

In August Feisal received from Allenby through General Dawnay a further 
“warning message” not to do anything rash, “as the British push was a chance, 
and if it failed the Arabs” (because of their situation under the offensive-plan) 
“would be on the wrong side of Jordan to be given help. Particularly Allenby 
begged Feisal not to rush upon Damascus. . . . Feisal smiled wisely at 
Dawnay’ s homily, and replied that he would try this autumn for Damascus 
though the heavens fell, and, if the British were not able to carry their share of 
the attack, he would save his own people by making separate peace with 

Djemaal Pasha had followed up his information of the Sykes-Picot Treaty 
by sending letters to Feisal begging him to come to a composition with Turkey. 
Djemaal was alarmed for the safety of the Moslem world, which he saw 
collapsing, and there was some genuineness in his letters, though how far he 
personally could be trusted, if success came the Turkish way, Feisal knew well. 
He judged it useful to go on with the correspondence, which provided a 
valuable sidelight on Turkish conditions. Lawrence, who was cognizant of 
everything, encouraged continuing it in part for this reason, and in part because 
as the correspondence grew and involved secretly more and more important 
personages in Turkey (including its future ruler, Mustapha Kemal-Ataturk) it 
weakened the enemy’s unity. Feisal even made a fictitious offer of quitting the 
field if the Turks would evacuate the Transjordan province of Amman. He 
forwarded all the relevant correspondence to his father in Mecca, but old King 
Hussein was aghast at what he read, and “sent a vehement telegram of protest, 
to the effect that he would never countenance such a pact and that the Turks 
should be told, “Only the sword lies between us.’” (Liddell Hart.) In all the 
convolutions of this story no one stands so straight as King Hussein. 

Lawrence’s and Feisal’s motives in continuing the correspondence were not 
however sprung entirely from its value as a source of military intelligence. 
Lawrence particularly felt that it was not fair for all contact with the Turks to be 
lost by the Arabs. “We could not close all avenues of accommodation with 
Turkey. If the European War failed, it was the Arabs’ only way out: and I had 
always the lurking fear that Great Britain might forestall Feisal and conclude its 
own separate peace, not with the Nationalist, but with the Conservative Turks. 
The British Government had gone very far in this direction, without informing 
her smallest ally. Our information of the precise steps, and of the proposals 
(which would have been fatal to so many of the Arabs in arms on our side) 
came, not officially to me, but privately.” 

Palestine: The Reality 


Lawrence’s information was accurate, of course. A year before this 
discussions had begun in Switzerland between Turks and British agents. The 
Englishmen were not formal envoys. They were in a betwixt and between 
situation. They did not engage the Government, but on the other hand the 
Government had engaged them. They were asked to go and to report on what 
the Turks had to say. They knew Turkey well and had old friends amidst the 
Turks generally. The Turks were men of some status and belonged to a group, 
gradually forming then, of politicians and soldiers who thoroughly disliked the 
German connection, which they thought would involve Turkey in ruin. The 
Turkish Minister in Switzerland and indeed all the Turkish Legation were 
secretly on their side; the diplomatic bag being employed for correspondence 
with Talaat Pasha, with whom negotiations were engaged. They were not 
entirely Conservatives: there was one member of the Committee of Union and 
Progress amongst those in Switzerland. As Lawrence explains, Mustapha 
Kemal himself was prepared to act against Enver, from Arab territory, if Feisal 
came to an agreement with him. Whether Mustapha Kemal was in touch with 
the Swiss negotiations is not clear. There was a main group negotiating, but 
there were individual threads too, not always linked, and not necessarily 
friendly to each other. 

The main group was Anglophile above all, and preferred to carry on 
conversations with Great Britain rather than with any other of the Allies. It 
produced a detailed scheme, which was dispatched to London, of which the 
preamble began: 

A new party shall be formed to work for conciliation and for the 
safeguarding of the common interests of England and of Turkey. The 
promoters of this scheme believe that its accomplishment will only be 
possible through the withdrawal of Turkey from the German grip. In 
order to prepare Turkish public opinion both for this change of policy 
and for the introduction of a sober and healthy system of government, it 
will be indispensable to hasten the collapse (in any case inevitable) of the 
Committee of Union and Progress. To-day the omnipotence of this band 
of vultures depends solely upon the existence of certain leaders of high 
station who are at the head of the chief departments of State and of the 
Central Committee. Once the terror inspired by these active personalities 
will have dissipated by their elimination, their Government would cease 
to exist for ever. 

There was more upon these lines, which deserves citing to show how 
definite were the negotiating group’s plans for a rising or for whatever the 
suspicious word “elimination” stood for. But the proposals were double- 
barrelled, for they also envisaged the New Party’s inability to oust the Germans 
as long as the War lasted. In this event the party had ready a contingent 

programme, under which consideration had been given to the condition of the 
non-Turkish sections of the Turkish Empire. The program ran: 

1 . As regards the government of the provinces administrative 
autonomy shall be accorded to the various ethnic elements of the Empire. 
Only the Valis (governors), the commanders of the military forces and 
the heads of the religious communities shall be named by the Sultan. 

2. The remaining administrative personnel in each vilayet shall be 
appointed and be chosen by the local native authorities. 

3. A certain number of foreign specialists — preferably British — shall 
be attached to the administrative authorities of the vilayets. 

4. Each vilayet shall pay a due contribution to the general expenses of 
the Empire. 

5. In case the “Union and Progress” Government should be 

overturned while the War is still in progress, in conformity with British 
interests, through the action of the New Party, then Great Britain shall 
guarantee the reimbursement of the Ottoman Public Debt. At the same 
time, Great Britain shall engage herself as from now to provide Turkey 
with the financial assistance needful to ensure the smooth running of a 
satisfactory government for that country, even in the case of the signature 
of a treaty disadvantageous to the Porte. 

6. In case the “Union and Progress” Government should be 

overturned while the War is still in progress Great Britain will recognize 
as an obligation to bring about the cessation of all hostilities by her 
Allies against the Ottoman Empire. 

7. Great Britain will use her influence with the Great Powers to obtain 
the retrocession of Lemnos and Mitylene to Turkey. 

There were several Turkish negotiators, and various schemes and 
programmes not differing very much from the above were in existence. They 
were considered by Mr. Lloyd George, and no doubt by Lord Balfour and other 
members of the Cabinet. 

Besides these proposals, the Turkish Government itself had been dallying 
with peace proposals as far back as the spring of 1917 and had received through 
a British intermediary in Switzerland a “personal opinion” that if the Turkish 
Government made an official announcement to the Allies that it was willing to 
treat for peace, then the offer would be considered. The Turkish Government, 
or Talaat Pasha at least, had decided to make some such announcement, and 
Talaat had prepared his terms. 

Under these terms, in matters touching the Arabs, Mesopotamia would 
become autonomous, sending delegates to a federal parliament at 
Constantinople. Syria “might be granted” the same autonomy. Arabia proper 
would be given a form of autonomy, but not under a King of the Hedjaz. 

Palestine: The Reality 


These semi-governmental proposals came to naught because the collapse of 
Russia, the possibility of a British defeat in Mesopotamia, and other factors 
intervened to make the Turks believe that they might win through after all and 
share in the Central Powers’ victory. 

It was when these latter hopes fell away that Talaat turned to the more 
individual conversations by which the security of the Committee of Union and 
Progress were menaced. It must have been a great shock to him when Allenby 
gained his victory at Gaza, for he had believed that British forces would never 
be able to capture Palestine, and that an arrangement on his own lines would 
have to be made with him. 

I have given an account of the Turkish proposals at a little length to show 
what a serious menace the consideration of them by Great Britain was to the 
independence guaranteed to the Arabs. In 1918 they were mingled with the 
offers to Feisal, to which he and Lawrence responded in the way we have seen. 

Whatever safeguard of correspondence he maintained for his people’s sake 
and whatever went on behind his back, Feisal threw his heart now into the 
preparations for the offensive. An unexpected difficulty was provided by King 
Hussein, who was piqued at the importance, in fact the predominance in the 
Arab forces now being gained by Jafaar Pasha, and other Mesopotamian or 
Syrian officers. He was annoyed at Jafaar’ s having received a general’s rank 
(there were some ten thousand Arabs fighting by this time in all sectors) 
without the matter having been referred to him. But by a ruse Lawrence patched 
things up between the King and his son and his son’s officers. “Now, sirs,” said 
Feisal on this occasion, to his staff, facing the last stage of their campaign, 
“praise God and work.” 

The prospective Arab work was of two kinds, each as vital to Allenby as the 
other. There was a third intention too, not so regularly covenanted for by the 
army commander. The first (touched upon a few pages ago) was to make the 
Germans and Turks believe that the offensive, which the enemy expected, was 
coming from their sector. This already had been suggested to the enemy in 
many ways by Allenby’ s staff. There had been the celebrated ruse for example 
of the lost dispatches, which had been written specially to be lost and were 
altogether misleading to the enemy, a ruse imagined and carried out by Colonel 
Meinertzhagen. But the Arabs had a primary means of action upon the enemy’s 
dispositions which surpassed any secondary ruse. A number of Ahad members, 
instead of deserting, had stayed in the Turkish ranks, kept in regular contact 
with their brethren in Feisal’s army, and — this was more valuable service than 
any — made their plans to disorganize the forces they commanded. Very subtly, 
for complete safety’s sake, these officers were left to imagine, by their 
correspondents in Feisal’s force, that the blow would fall on the Turkish left, 
instead of the right. They were only asked to confuse their sectors tactically, 
which of course at the supreme moment would prevent troops being moved 
from wing to wing of the Turk army, in so far as any such movement would be 

practicable. “They were conjured,” says Lawrence, “so to dispose their troops 
as to be ineffective both ways.” 

Another trick accomplished by the Arabs was to buy secretly from a 
chattering tribe well behind the Turkish left all its barley-crop “futures.” This, 
the tribesmen were told, was to provide against scarcity of fodder for the 
animals of the British and Arab forces when “they had broken through,” but 
they were enjoined on no account to mention this. But, as was expected the 
news got out and reached the Germano-Turk command, confirming the Staff in 
the belief that it was their left that Allenby meant to attack. 

The second main task of the Arabs was to envelop Deraa, the chief junction 
of the enemy railways, and to cut the lines at important points, so as to wreck 
the enemy’s communications. 

The third task, or rather the Arabs’ third and more or less private intention 
was at last to raise in insurrection those tribes in whose territory the Turkish left 
wing would have to manoeuvre. It was only in this quarter, away from cities, 
where Djemaal’s terror had not penetrated that intact and useful potential forces 
for the Arabs lay. These tribesmen had long desired to revolt. At the time when 
Mr. Morrison (with not a few others) speaks of the Syrian Arabs as inert, 
Lawrence tells how he received continuous demands from the tribes round 
Deraa to be allowed to revolt. But Lawrence had forbidden this. He was not 
satisfied (and events proved him right ) that Allenby then would be able to reach 
the level of Deraa in his coast-sector. So the Arab rising would be isolated and 
lost. “Deraa’s sudden capture (which the Arab chief of the district had 
promised), followed by a retreat, would have involved the massacre or the ruin 
of all the splendid peasantry of the district. They could only rise once, and their 
effort on that occasion must be decisive.” 

These considerations, in the autumn of 1917, had made Lawrence order a 
postponement of the rising. Now, in the autumn of 1918, the hour for the rising 
had come. 

The Arabs had the honour of beginning the great offensive. Allenby had 
demanded that three days before he moved the Turkish forces in Deraa should 
be enveloped and the railway cut. “Deraa was a vital point, for there centred the 
rail communications of all three Turkish armies and the line of retreat of the 
fourth. Only the Arabs could reach it. Upon them much depended if the Turkish 
dispositions were to be paralysed before Allenby’ s stroke descended.” (Liddell 

By nine in the morning of the seventeenth “the southern ten miles of the 
Damascus line was freely ours,” recorded Lawrence of that first day of battle. 
“It was the only railway to Palestine and Hedjaz, and I could hardly realize our 
fortune, hardly believe that our word to Allenby was fulfilled so simply and so 
soon.” “Lawrence’s preparatory task on behalf of Allenby was complete,” says 
Liddell Hart in his study of the campaign. “By his three-sided cut at the focal 
point of the enemy’s communications he had gone far to hamstring the Turkish 

Palestine: The Reality 


armies just as Allenby was to jump on them. The stroke had the physical effect 
of shutting off the flow of their supplies temporarily — and temporarily was all 
that mattered here. It had the mental effect of making Liman von Sanders send 
part of his scanty reserves towards Deraa. More significantly still, he sent 
German troops, the precious cement that held together his jerry-built armies.” 
On the 17th an Indian deserter had warned the German staff that the main 
British attack was to be delivered in the coastal area. This was two days before 
Allenby was ready to move. But the Arab attack at Deraa made the Germans 
believe that the deserter was sent to fool them. 

On the 19th Allenby gave the signal for advance. He crashed through to his 
great victory. There is no space to go into all the details of how the Arabs 
conquered too. They took Deraa on the 28th. On the 30th September Damascus 
was captured and the Arabs’ flag hoisted on their ancient capital. “Ali Riza 
Pasha himself, who had so long combined the dual function of Turkish 
commander and head of the Arab Committee, was not present to inaugurate the 
change. He had just previously been dispatched to take charge of the Turks’ last 
line of defence, a duty that he had accepted as a conveniently early chance to 
join the British. ... He so much enjoyed telling how he had selected heavy 
artillery positions that could not be occupied for want of water that in his 
merriment he upset the table on which breakfast had been laid.” 

Between that 5th of June in 1916, when the Arabs with such wild daring had 
begun their haphazard revolt, to this 30th September in 1918 the Arabs’ action 
had steadily increased in importance and in value to the Allied cause. The 
greatness of its final accomplishment is summed up best by Captain Lidciell 
Hart, the recognized chief military commentator of our day. 

He writes: 

In the crucial weeks while Allenby’s stroke was being prepared and 
during its delivery nearly half of the Turkish forces south of Damascus 
were distracted by the Arab forces; pinned east of the Jordan by the 
subtle feints and the nerve -paralysing needle -jabs that Lawrence 
conceived and directed. Those forces comprised the 2nd and 8th Army 
Corps as well as the garrisons along the Hedjaz railway between Maan 
and Amman. Together these totalled some 2,000 sabres and 12,000 rifles. 
The ration-strength appears to have been about three times as large, i.e., 
about 40,000 to 45,000 out of a total ration-strength of 100,000 south of 
Damascus. ... As a consequence Allenby was able to concentrate three 
Army Corps totalling 12,000 sabres and 57,000 rifles against the other 
half approximately of the Turkish forces. In the sector chosen for the 
decisive stroke he obtained odds of 5 to 1 — 44,000 to 8,000. ... it 
created a whirlpool which sucked down almost half the Turkish Army, 
indeed more than half of it, if, as is just, we count the 12,000 Turks cut 
off in the Hedjaz. And even this reckoning leaves out the Turkish forces 
in Southern Arabia. 

Palestine: The Reality 

What the absence of these forces meant to the success of Allenby’s 
stroke it is easy to see. Nor did the Arab operation end when it had 
opened the way. For in the issue it was the Arabs almost entirely who 
wiped out the Fourth Army, the still intact force that might have barred 
the way to final victory. (They had taken 8,000 prisoners and killed a 
number that was estimated at nearly 5,000, besides capturing 150 
machine-guns and thirty cannon.) 

This was the arithmetical factor. But there was also the biological. 
The wear and tear, the bodily and mental strain on men and material was 
applied by the Arabs, under the guidance of Lawrence’s mind, who 
prepared the mind of Liman von Sanders so that he arranged his forces in 
the way that produced their defeat. 

In another passage Liddell Hart says: 

Why had the enemy stayed to be pulverized instead of making a 
timely recoil? We know now that Liman had been anticipating a big 
attack, and that at the beginning of September he had thought of 
frustrating it by a withdrawal to a rear line near the Sea of Galilee. But “I 
gave up the idea,” says he in his memoirs, “because we should have had 
to relinquish the Hedjaz railway, and because we could no longer have 
stopped the progress of the Arab insurrection in rear of our army.” 

Thus ended the war in Palestine and the Arabs’ splendid part in the 
liberation of their territory. They had fulfilled their obligations setting indeed 
no term to them and all through the campaign taking on obligation upon 
obligation as each emprise they were called upon to accomplish came to its end. 
As Lawrence, identifying himself with them, declared, “Our bond had been 
most heavily honoured.” It was now the turn of Great Britain to reward them in 
conformity with the promises she had made to them. It was not such an 
extraordinary reward, after all, since it was but to recognize them as masters of 
the soil which they had occupied for so many centuries. The enemy himself had 
offered them not so much less, if they had been willing to abandon the Allied 

The local armistice was signed by Turkey on the 31st of October, soon to be 
followed by the great armistice in the West. The military authorities in 
Palestine now had to give themselves entirely to the problems of 
administration. The whole of Syria soon was in the Allies’ control. It was the 
control of the Allies, not of Great Britain alone. Small French and Italian 
detachments had accompanied Allenby’s army to maintain formally the inter- 
allied quality of his force, and the Union Jack was not hoisted when Jerusalem 
was captured. Allenby entered Jerusalem with a French and an Italian officer on 
either side. 

With all Syria occupied it became necessary to adjust its government to the 
concept of general Allied control. The arrangements for this had to be carried 
through at once, and were treated as temporary till the heralded Peace 


Conference should draw up the terms of peace for Syria, as for other parts of 
the world of which the future depended upon the result of the War. It was 
decided between Great Britain and France, not too easily, that the principle of 
the Sykes-Picot Treaty should be followed, and so Syria was divided into four 
sections known as O.E.T.A. (Occupied Enemy Territory Administration) North, 
South, East and West respectively. O.E.T.A. North and West were to be 
governed by French forces dispatched to Syria for the purpose, O.E.T.A. South 
by the British, and O.E.T.A. East by the Arabs. Roughly put, the French held 
the coastal parts of Syria north of Palestine and the British the southern or 
Palestine parts. The Arab holding, with Damascus as capital, was an enclave 
into the other two, with Aleppo and Amman as chief places over against the 
French and British sectors respectively. Lord Allenby in July of 1919 was put 
in general control over all the O.E.T.A.s, though in practice he did not act 
outside the British area except in consultation. 

It was after consultation between the French and the British Governments 
that on the 9th November a proclamation was issued by him, addressed to the 
inhabitants of Mesopotamia and of Syria, which might be described perhaps as 
the most striking document of all that were to appear in relation to the affairs of 
Palestine. It is true that it is not a fundamental item in the way that the Hussein- 
McMahon engagements were. It was only corroborative of these. 

But it is so categorical, so plain in what it asseverates, and so unescapable in 
the evidence it provides of our faithlessness, that it stands out amidst all others. 
There is reason to suppose that Sir Mark Sykes, already on the road to 
repentance, had a share in the drafting of it, though it was first completed in the 
French language. Allenby’s share in it was that he demanded it. The Arabs had 
kept their word to him, and he now, as their governor, insisted that it was 
necessary we should give an earnest of our intention to keep our word to them. 

But it is a Governmental document. The responsibility for it lay upon the 
Governments of France and of Great Britain. It was studied and passed by the 
two Governments. M. Picot and Lord (Robert) Cecil went over it together. 
Finally it was submitted to Mr. Lloyd George and to M. Clemenceau, who 
ratified it and ordered its publication. The statesmen’s motives were not quite 
those of Allenby, the soldier. They wanted to appease local trouble: he to carry 
out a bond. Already in the Near East there was wide irritation and unrest which 
had to be placated. This was because of the small evidence of the promised 
control over their redeemed territories being conceded to the Arabs. In 
Mesopotamia fighting had broken out because of Arab dissatisfaction. 

Feisal had been not so much given, as allowed to remain in, the Damascus 
area which (following Lawrence’s advice) he had wisely conquered with Arab 
arms. But his tenure was uncertain. The French had rushed troops to North 
Syria and had the air of installing themselves for good in the portions of the 
country of which the allocation had been left for “consideration” at the close of 

Palestine: The Reality 

the War. We were digging in with as permanent airs in Palestine and in 

It was quite true that a mass of practical obstacles obstructed the immediate 
delivery of large territories to a race which had no administrative machine in 
being, and had had no great experience of self-government on any scale, though 
in the Turkish civil system and in the Turkish Army it had had more experience 
of this administrative work than was generally credited to it. Still, these 
obstacles had been recognized by Hussein himself on behalf of his fellow- 
Arabs, and a transition period in allowance for them had been foreseen in his 
treaty determining the future of the Arab lands. So it was not so much the 
physical solidity of the regimes being established by British and French in these 
redeemed territories as the lack of any definition of their character which 
disturbed the Arabs. It led to talk such as Lawrence had listened to in Hamra 
from Mesopotamian officers and from Feisal himself in the far -back first days 
of the revolt ( cf Chapter VIII.). If the French and British would declare that 
their installations in Syria and in Mesopotamia were only stop-gap (however 
permanent of appearance owing to national habits) the Arabs would be 

Therefore it was to assure the Arabs of the transient nature of the British and 
French administrations in their lands that the Allied statesmen had the 
proclamation issued on the 9th November which is known as the Joint Anglo- 
French Proclamation. It was posted and circulated all through Palestine: there 
was not a village where the news and the text of it did not circulate. It will be 
best to give its text first in the original French: 

Le gouvernement francais, d’ accord avec le gouvernement 
britannique, a decide de faire Ici declaration conjointe ci-dessous pour 
donner aux populations non-turques des regions entre le Taurus et le 
golfe Persique, T assurance que les deux pays, chacun en ce qui le 
concerne, entendent leur assurer la plus grande autonomie afin de 
garcintir leur affranchissement et le developpement de leur civilisation: 

“Le but qu ’envisagent la France et la Grande Bretagne en 
poursuivant en Orient la guerre dechainee par T ambition allemande, 
c’est T affranchissement complet et definitf des peuples si longtemps 
opprimes par les Turcs et I’etablissement de gouvernements et 
administrations nationaux puisant leur autorite dans l ’initiative et le 
libre choix des populations indigenes. Pour donner suite a ces intentions, 
la France et la Grande Bretagne sont d’ accord pour encourager et aider 
I’etablissement de gouvernements et d’ administrations indigenes en 
Syrie et en Mesopotcnnie actuellement liberties par les Allies on dans les 
territoires dont ils poursuivent la liberation, et pour reconnoitre ceux-ci 
aussitot qu ’ils seront effectivement etablis. 

“Loin de vouloir imposer aux populations de ces regions telles ou 
telles institutions, elles n ’ont d’ autre souci que d ’assurer par leur appui 


et par une assistance efficace la fonction normale des gouvernements et 
adninistrations qu ’elles se seront librenient domes. Assurer une justice 
impartiale et egale pour tons, faciliter le developpement economique du 
pays en suscitant et en encourageant les initiatives locales, favoriser la 
diffusion de l ’instruction, mettre fin aux divisions trop longremps 
exploitees par la politique turque, tel est le role que les deux 
gouvernements allies revendiquent dans les territoires liberes. ” 

That is: 

“The French Government, in agreement with the British Government, 
has decided to issue the following joint declaration in order to give to the 
non-Turkish populations between the Taurus and the Persian Gulf the 
assurance that the two countries, each in its own sphere, intend to secure 
for them the amplest autonomy, with the aim of guaranteeing their 
liberation and the development of their civilization: 

“The end that France and Britain have in pursuing in the East the war 
unloosed by German ambition is the complete and definite freeing of the 
peoples so long oppressed by the Turks, and the establishment of 
National Governments and Administrations deriving their authority from 
the initiative and the free choice of the native populations. 

“In order to give effect to these intentions, France and Great Britain 
have agreed to encourage and to assist the establishment of native 
Governments and Administrations in Syria and in Mesopotamia, now 
liberated by the Allies, and in the territories whose liberation they seek, 
and to recognize them as soon as they are effectively established. 

“Far from wishing to impose any particular institutions on the 
populations of these regions, their only care is to assure by their support 
and efficacious assistance the normal workings of the Governments 
which these populations freely shall have given themselves. To ensure 
impartial and equal justice to all, to facilitate the economic development 
of the country by promoting and encouraging local initiative, to foster the 
spread of education, to put an end to the divisions too long exploited by 
Turkish policy — such is the role which the two Allied Governments 
claim in the liberated territories.” 

There could not possibly be a clearer or more definite promise to establish 
Arab, because native, rule in Palestine and the other Arab lands. So definite is 
this proclamation, so binding are its exemplary terms that one cannot but 
believe that, whatever their motives, the British and the French statesmen who 
issued it had some temporary intention of carrying it out. To believe anything 
else would be to think too ill of human nature; no man carrying the heritage of 
Adam could use such phrases to deceive his fellow-men, indeed during a debate 
in the French Chamber in the last week of December Monsieur Pichon spoke of 
a firm intent to honour it. Referring to the coming Peace Conference, and to the 

agreements between France and Britain specified in the second paragraph of the 
Proclamation, he declared, “Of course we admit the complete freedom of the 
Conference, and its right, to give these agreements their proper conclusions, but 
these agreements are binding both upon England and upon us.” 

So far so good. But unfortunately more remains to be said. The text as 1 
have given it in French, the original text drawn up between Britain and France, 
was duly published in France, and may be found in several of the Paris papers. 
It appeared for instance, in the Journal and Petit Journal of the 9th of 
November. This was on the very verge of the great Armistice of the 1 1th of 
November, and the Near Eastern proclamation of course was obscured in the 
vast excitement of the close of war upon the Western Front. 

The Proclamation was published in England too, but was obscured in the 
same way there, occupying in The Times a position at the end of a column on a 
minor page. Its position though, was the least of things. What is of first 
importance is that in the British version, given to the Press by the Government 
through the usual official information services, the preamble had disappeared. It 
has never been published in this country: its existence is unknown in this 
country. The preamble was worded so that the two governments might 
introduce it in the same terms, changing the words “French” and “British” 
about; i.e., the British version would run, “The British Government (or His 
Majesty’s Government), in agreement with the French Government, has 
decided, etc., etc.” 

Why did it disappear? We may well wonder. It is to be observed that in the 
preamble it is carefully stated that the Proclamation applies to all non-Turkish 
populations between the Taurus Mountains (which are the northern boundary of 
Syria and Turkey) and the Persian Gulf, so that no one, not even Dr. Weizmann 
nor Mr. Ormsby-Gore. could say that it did not apply to Palestine. 

The preamble was officially written by the French Government in 
agreement (as it states) with the British Government, and we know that the 
Proclamation was submitted to and ratified by the leading British statesmen, by 
the testimony of the official Flistory of the War. Why then ‘was the preamble 
expunged or dropped in Great Britain? 

Expunged or not, it is there in the French version to bear witness to the 
completeness of the pledge to the native race in Palestine (as in the other Arab 
lands), that the Allies would make it their mission to see that the Arabs only 
had such governments as they would have freely given themselves, and that the 
Allies would support and assist these Governments — in due pursuance naturally 
of the McMahon-Hussein Treaty. Even without the preamble the terms of the 
Proclamation itself obviously refer to Palestine, as part of Syria and as being 
“liberated by the Allies” at the time. Allenby published it in Palestine as in a 
country for which it was intended. 

Palestine: The Reality 



Proposals for making Palestine “a Jewish country” approved by Balfour — 

Zionist preparation for the Peace Conference — The siege and investment of 

Feisal — The “Treaty of Friendship “ — The “Frankfurter letter.” 

Since the fate of Syria apparently was to be settled at the coming Peace 
Conference in Paris, the chief persons who were concerned, or wished to be 
concerned, in its fate now made their way to Europe. Dr. Weizmann himself 
had quitted Palestine for London as far back as September. He had established 
good personal relations with the Army authorities during his stay in Palestine, 
and was the one member of the Zionist Commission who had done so. 

During the previous May, when the Zionist Commission had reached Akaba 
during its tour, he had had a conference with the Emir Feisal. It was their first 
meeting. Various British persons were present too, and the chief merit of this 
meeting in Zionist eyes will have been that the Zionist chief appeared to the 
Arab prince under the aegis of Major Ormsby-Gore and in an aura of British 

Nothing precise sprang of this meeting. Zionist aims were something new to 
Feisal, and attracted him after a fashion at that early stage, when they were 
presented to him crowned with a vague but bright nimbus of benevolence and 
clad in the “art-silk” robes of Semitic fraternity. Feisal always was to hear more 
of common aims and of mutual upbuilding of Palestine than of the details of the 
National Home project. But even at this first meeting at Akaba he made clear 
that Palestine, despite the universality which attached to it as the world’s 
greatest sanctuary (which he recognized), yet was an Arab country, and he 
specified that any Jewish settlement in it must be in an Arab domain and under 
Arab suzerainty. He was not told that this conflicted with the Zionist plans. 

There can be little doubt that then, on the eve of the Peace Conference, the 
Zionists as they reckoned up the factors of the situation saw that Feisal 
represented their only hope of any sort of “understanding” with the Arabs. The 
polite prince, transported from contact with the native soil and with the native 
public, going round and round, as they half foresaw, in the circling vortex of 
the self-centred Conference, under the continuous social pressure of their own 
British friends, presented the only conceivable means of deflecting an Arab to 
their intentions. 

Nothing was to be hoped from the mass of the Arabs. The experiences of the 
Zionist Commission had shown this, and the agitation too which had resulted in 
the Anglo-French Proclamation. 

But in any survey of the situation, after all, Feisal only represented a 
secondary factor for the Zionists. He would have to fall in probably with what 
was arranged for him and his by the treaty-makers of the Allied and Associated 
Powers. These treaty-makers were the prime factors and the persons to be 
secured. In London, in December, Dr. Weizmann had an interview on the 

subject. As might have been expected, it was with Lord Balfour. Balfour told 
him that the Zionists “probably would be heard at the Peace Conference when 
the national problem with which they were concerned came up,” and that 
“Great Britain was pledged to the policy of a National Home and would support 
it at the Conference.” This showed that the formula devised for the Conference, 
when Palestine came up, would be that of the very, very difficult national 
problem in that country which had to be faced with full consideration of its 
long-tangled items. An elaborate falsehood of course, for the Conference in 
reality would not be facing but creating a problem, through the introduction 
into Palestine of entangling items of its own fresh manufacture where there had 
been none. 

Besides the European Zionists, extremely important Jewish delegations from 
the United States came to Paris via London. Chief of these was the American 
Zionist Delegation, the representatives of the Brandeis dominant group, 
composed of Dr. Stephen Wise, Mrs. Fels (wife of the millionaire soap-boiler), 
Messrs. Bernard Flexner and Louis Robison, who were joined later on by 
Messrs, de Haas, Frankfurter and Gans. The American Jewish Congress, held in 
Philadelphia on the 16th December, sent a large body, the members of which 
brought with them a resolution passed at the Congress. By this “the 
representatives of three million Jews demanded such political, administrative 
and economic conditions [in Palestine] as will assure under the trusteeship of 
Great Britain, acting on behalf of such League of Nations as may be formed, 
the development of Palestine into a Jewish Commonwealth.” 

The presence in the United States delegations of Messrs, de Haas and Wise 
is to be noted, since it is they, particularly Mr. de Haas, the Zionist historian in 
the United States, who provide valuable information of what now occurred. Mr. 
de Haas in his History of Palestine says that before leaving for Europe the 
members of Dr. Wise’s delegation received instructions, or “advice,” as he puts 
it, upon their attitude. He does not say who gave it. The person in a position to 
give advice to a delegation of the American Zionist Organization was its 
Chairman, Mr. Brandeis. In the interim he had been publicly appointed by 
President Wilson to a position of immense importance for the Zionist cause. He 
was “to collate the material upon which the eventual peace should be 
published.” This appointment dated as far back as October 1917. But Mr. 
Brandeis ’s views do not seem altogether consonant with these instructions to 
his delegates. He had given his favour to the plan of a “British Palestine,” while 
this advice which the delegates had received was to aim at a Jewish rather than 
a British Palestine. “The neutral Jewish status of Palestine,” they were told, 
“means freedom of action in the direction of settlement and emigration. We can 
tell the Jews to go to their Homeland. We will give no political offence [.sic] in 
doing this, but it will be difficult to preach ‘Go to British Palestine.’ Ormsby- 
Gore evidently sees this when he suggests a Jewish passport.” 

Palestine: The Reality 


With Major Ormsby-Gore suggesting (by what authority?) Jewish passports 
and therefore the recognition of a Jewish nationality based on Palestine, with 
one Zionist body bearing a resolution for a Jewish Commonwealth, with 
another having an official compiler of plans for the treaty as its Chairman, the 
outlook just before the Peace Conference already was ominous for the Arabs. 
The official United States delegates, too, before leaving for Europe had been 
prepared for their task. “All the important members of the Wilson Mission who 
were likely to be consulted on Palestine or on the Jewish phase of any European 
problem, were deliberated with prior to their leaving New York. Strong in the 
possession of the President’s personal interest — Mr. Wilson having said that the 
Jewish Homeland was one of the two permanent new achievements that would 
come out of the War — the members of the Brandeis Zionist administration 
proceeded to London and Paris.” (de Haas.) 

What a picture! One is reminded of those court proceedings of the olden 
days in which the verdict was prepared before the trial began. Certainly it might 
be said that the Palestine verdict journeyed back and forth from New York and 
London to Paris ere it was delivered. For all that, the Zionists gathering in 
London were not satisfied. They wanted more than the surest of mere prospects. 
So a proposal was laid before Lord Balfour early in December for a method of 
putting his Declaration into practice which would insure 

An unfettered development of the Jewish National Home in Palestine — not 
mere facilities for colonization, but opportunities for carrying out colonizing 
activity, public works, etc., on a large scale, so that we should be able to settle 
in Palestine four to five million Jews within a generation and so make Palestine 
a Jewish country, (de Haas.) 

Lord Balfour “approved this,” Mr. de Haas informs us. Yet only a month 
had passed since the Anglo-French Proclamation had been promulgated 
throughout Palestine by the Government of which Balfour was a member. Nor 
did Balfour and his group confine themselves to theoretic approval. They 
helped where they could. “The interpretation of Jewish National Home into 
Jewish Commonwealth was cabled to his associates in New York by Dr. Wise 
at the suggestion of British officials.” (Wise and de Haas.) 

There was but one cloud darkening the Zionist outlook in these halcyon 
days. It was of the Zionists’ own making. They did not agree altogether amidst 
themselves; there was dissension between the Americans and the Europeans. 
Dr. Weizrnann and the Europeans saw the Americans, secure in their wealth 
and in their close connection with President Wilson, more and more disposed to 
seize control of the movement. Brandeis made plans for Palestine like an 
emperor. He intended particularly that if a British Mandate were created, then 
Britain should sign a formal contract with the Zionist Organization, which was 
to act on behalf of the “Jewish people.” “His Majesty’s Government of the one 
part and the Zionist Organization, acting on behalf of the Jewish people, of the 
other, mutually agree and bind themselves . . .” that was the sort of document 

he wished to see, with the “Jewish people” thereby accepted as a negotiating 

The Weizrnann European group on the other hand, in closer contact with the 
British Government, and attached to the do ut des policy, had formulated 
another plan. The American delegates complained that they were presently 
confronted with it. It proposed 

a liberal land reform policy, visualized Palestine as a type of British 
Crown Colony with a Jewish Governor, the recognition of the Jewish 
flag and Jewish festivals and Sabbaths. Hebrew as one of the official 
tongues, and political conditions that would give the Jewish minority 
majority- rights in Palestine [my italics]. The proposed settlement was 
about five thousand Jews a year. The plan moreover contained a clause 
for the creation of a Jewish council with its seat in Jerusalem, (de Haas.) 

In fact the plan was very much the same as the Mandatory regime which was 
set up later, which in fact was based on an emendation of these proposals. The 
main difference was that under the Mandate the Jewish minority was not given 
majority-rights, which would have been too venturesome for a start. They were 
given something to which they had as little claim though, that is they, the 
minority, were given equality-rights with the Arab majority, the Arab majority 
conversely being reduced to a level with a group numbering only one -tenth of 
their own numbers. 

At the time the bluntness of the minority-into-majority proposals flustered 
some officials, if not Balfour, in the Foreign Office. “British officialdom which 
at that juncture believed there were only twenty thousand Jews in Palestine, 
was fearful of the Arabs, urged prudence, and the formulation of as little as 
possible.” (de Haas.) Someone, Lord Cecil 1 fancy, wrote a minute insisting on 
the desirability of this unformulating prudence until the Zionist settlers should 
have established “by precept and example a life and civilization worthy of the 
highest and noblest ideal of Deuteronomy and Isaiah.” 

Minutes of this type appealed to the American Zionist group, and with this 
one sounding as psalters in their ears the Americans withdrew to evolve “a new 
set of proposals based on the Pittsburg programme, which they believed would 
prove as acceptable to English idealism as it would conform to the aspirations 
of the Zionists.” (de Haas.) The first clause of the Pittsburg programme, which 
was disregarded instantaneously by its very devisers, has been quoted already. 
The other clauses predicated in the National Home the national ownership of 
the soil — though it might be sub-leased; public control of all natural resources 
and of general utilities, with due regard to existing rights; free schooling; the 
organization of most undertakings upon the co-operative principle. 

Whatever the American group produced out of the four-fifths of the 
programme which its members retained, the result was not found in conformity 
with “English idealism and the aspirations of other Zionists.” Differences were 

Palestine: The Reality 


patched up, however, between the Europeans and the Americans and both 
bodies collaborated in the memorandum which ultimately the Zionist 
Organization presented to the Peace Conference. This did not occur though till 
the end of February, and in the meantime the Zionists began what may be 
called the investment of the Emir Feisal. Their aim, and the aim of the 
Government, was now explicit — to extract from this passably cozened prince 
some document compromising the Arab claims before these could be put 
forward by the Arabs as a body. 

It was certain that the mass of Arab nationalists would try as speedily as 
they could to establish some kind of council or assembly. Already the members 
of the “National Committee,” which had been formed at Damascus in 1914 and 
had instructed Hussein when he opened negotiations with Great Britain, were 
trying to get into touch again with each other and to find a place and means of 
assembly in public. Once an organization on any kind of representative basis 
could be created, it would be sure either to speak out directly on behalf of the 
Arab race, or to instruct Feisal as his father had been instructed. The kind of 
instructions which he would receive, the Zionists knew well by now, meant 
their own doom, or meant at least the doom of any pretence that the Arabs at 
large would fall in with the Zionist programme. 

But while Arab representation was still loose, and undefinedly in Feisal’s 
hands, there was an opportunity of securing from him an agreement favouring 
their projects, The Government, which shared these hopes and was equally 
alive to the opportunity, was on its part particularly anxious to obtain from 
Feisal an acceptance of the Balfour Declaration. 

Is there any need to point out how unreal and how unfair was the situation 
which enabled the Conference to begin under these conditions, with Feisal 
exposed to every pressure, the Zionists represented by well-found delegations, 
and the Arabs, whose lives and territories were to provide the theme of 
discussion, with no delegations at all? It was not the fault of the Arabs, since 
before a representative Arab delegation could appear, how much would not 
have to be accomplished? 

Two problems faced the Arabs as preliminaries. They had to find means of 
assembling, and they had to determine upon those who were to assemble. 
Wherever they chose to meet, the process of meeting would take time. Transit 
in their countries, of its nature slow, had been disorganized further by the War 
and by the restrictions on free movement which had succeeded it. But if it was 
hard for the Arabs to assemble save after much delay, it was still harder for 
them to decide who amongst them were to do so. They were scattered over a 
great area in the ruins of a collapsed empire, which had never had a wide, 
organized democratic elective system suited for producing delegates on the 
scale now required. They were faced with the great difficulties of regionalism 
and federalism. Were they to have one federal assembly, or something like the 

Austro-Hungarian Imperial Delegation, or something like our own loose but 
effective Empire connections? 

All these were enormous problems with which the Arabs were confronted at 
the very outset of their existence as a nation or group of nations. They should 
have been matters for the most serious consideration of the Peace Conference. 
It is true that the members of the Conference might have declared, with some 
reason, at the start of its labours, that it was not possible for such elaborate 
processes to accomplish themselves ere making peace with Turkey. (In the 
sequel four years actually were to pass before peace with Turkey was signed at 
Fausanne, but this was not to be foreseen at the start.) 

If, however, the Allied chiefs thought, as 1918 passed into 1919, that they 
could not wait, they at least could have arranged some temporary kind of 
representation for the Arab nations as a whole. They might have summoned to 
Paris the 1914 Damascus Committee, deputations of the “Fatah” and of the 
“Ahad” and so forth. Such an arrangement would have been makeshift and 
transitory, it is true, but it would have answered its purpose. Feisal, by his 
connections with these bodies, would have been designated as the obvious head 
of their delegacy, but he would have had something of a constitutional 

It would not, however, have been possible so to sustain the figment that the 
affairs of all the Arabs could be treated as a personal affair between the Allies 
and Feisal: which was no doubt the reason that nothing of this sort was done by 
the Conference. 

But as the sittings of the Conference progressed, and it became evident that 
there would be more time to spare than had been first imagined, the onus which 
lay upon the Conference of considering Syrian opinion became heavier. 

In Mesopotamia within two years the whole kingdom of Irak with all its 
appurtenances was launched by Great Britain. The preparations for this began 
at once in 1919, when the army of occupations under orders from home, 
canvassed the population for its views upon the character of the country’s 
future institutions. This inquiry in practice proved difficult, the Mesopotamians 
for one thing being less advanced than the Syrians. Still, difficulty was to be 
anticipated, and the great thing was that then a beginning was made, that the 
principle of Arab independence was recognized at the first possible moment, 
and that the measures taken fructified in a couple of years. 

There was no reason why the same procedure should not have been 
followed in Syria. There would have been difficulties in Syria too, such as that 
presented by the little Christian Febanon, to which the Turks had been forced 
by the Concert of Europe to grant autonomy. The Febanon was anxious to 
conserve its privileged status. Whatever real or imaginary difficulties there 
were, however, they could have been met, and the very fact that we had 
grappled with the difficulties in Mesopotamia made it necessary to grapple with 
them in Syria. 

Palestine: The Reality 


We could not be treaty-keepers in Mesopotamia and treaty-breakers in 
Syria, honest in Baghdad and dishonest in Jerusalem, straightforward on the 
banks of the Euphrates and shifty and elusive on the banks of the Jordan. Yet 
that was what we became, and our very virtue on one side of the new frontiers 
became suspect and lost its pristine value because of our conduct upon the other 
side. How could generous intentions be credited to us in Irak under the 
circumstances? Men recognized that what we did there was well done, but they 
now looked for the policy, for the reason of state which lay behind this 
generosity and this faithfulness to our word. Was our undoubted amity 
oleaginous? Did the line of conduct follow the course allotted to a coming pipe- 

Thus by our action in Palestine did we tarnish the good we did in the sister- 
country. Our rulers did not care. They were bickering with the French in private 
over the division of the Syrian mandates and they were as determined as Tartar 
conquerors to impose upon Palestine the rule which pleased them. 

So there was no summoning of Arab delegates from Syria to Paris to 
proclaim unwanted truths before the Conference, and in Syria there was no 
sequel given by British or French to their Anglo-French proclamation. It was a 
terrible thing thus to address in noble words a confiding race, and immediately 
thereafter to act as though those words never had been spoken. In Syria we 
were like hosts who ran welcoming the Arabs, grasped their hands, patted them 
on the shoulder, led them to our doors, and then shut the doors with a bang in 
their faces. 

As a result in Paris, while the Zionists were (as a loose phrase well puts it) 
more than fully represented, the Arabs as Arabs were not properly represented 
at all. Feisal, as his father’s representative, did what he could within his limits. 
Two colleagues joined him presently, the Mesopotamian Rustum Bey Haidar 
and the Syrian Auni Bey Abdel-Hadi who had taken a prominent part in the 
Arab Congress of Paris before the War and had lost a kinsman on the Turkish 
scaffold. They acted as Secretaries of the Delegation. 

Meanwhile, in November, Feisal accompanied by Lawrence had reached 
London. From the moment of his arrival he was much lionized. He was too 
distinguished of temperament to care for lionizing for its own sake, but he was 
gratified by the warmth of his reception, which had its genuine side of course, 
and was a recognition by the public of all that the Arabs had accomplished. But 
soon the manoeuvring began, very adroitly. A kind of political massage, 
persistent, dulling, soothing and smoothing, was applied to Feisal, till his whole 
being seemed whelmed in its movements. Every day at receptions and at 
meetings, but above all at informal conferences and in private conversations, 
the Arab cause appeared to merge more and more into the Allied victory. It 
merged gloriously indeed: Feisal now found himself cast as one of the leaders 
of the great world-triumph. 

But it merged, and in the process of merging the very definite contracts 
which the Arabs had carried out, in the Hedjaz and in Syria, were lost to sight. 
As a helper and minor creditor of the great Allies Feisal would have had a 
political bill to present to them for settlement, a plain business. As one of the 
board of Allies he began to perceive himself involved in culling the rewards of 
supremacy in an undefined way with nothing fixed or guaranteed but largeness 
of prospects. And he was invited to take into account all sorts of considerations 
which could not have been imposed upon him as an Arab, but were part of his 
new outlook as an Allied statesman. 

Foremost of these was an “understanding” with the Zionists. He had been 
subjected already at Amman, as we have seen, to the lure of Zionists coming to 
settle in Palestine, to use his father’s words, as “lodgers in the Arab house.” 
Such Jews as he knew had indeed lived there as lodgers of the Ottoman Sultan. 
Now a development of this state of things was proposed to him, a scheme for 
Jewish colonies leading an autonomous life, upon terms afterwards to be 
worked out. Feisal had no clear idea then that such autonomy was intended to 
initiate Zionist co-partnership in Palestine, and from co-partnership was to 
evolve into ownership of the country. Nothing was very clear to him at the 
time, for new projects which he did not understand (as he was to tell me later 
on himself) continually were being mooted to him. The League of Nations was 
shaping, and the word “Mandate” was just creeping into use. 

The question of language too was a perpetual difficulty for Feisal. He had 
only a few words of English, depended a great deal on Lawrence to expound 
texts, and Lawrence’s Arabic, for all its fluency, was not that suited to texts. 
“At the beginning my Arabic,” as Lawrence testifies himself, “had been a 
halting command of the tribal dialects of the Middle Euphrates (a not impure 
form), but now it became a fluent mingling of Hedjaz slang and north-tribal 
poetry with household words and phrases from the limpid Nejdi, and book 
forms from Syria. The fluency had a lack of grammar, which made my talk a 
perpetual adventure for my hearers. Newcomers imagined I must be the native 
of some unknown illiterate district; a shot-rubbish ground of disjected Arabic 
parts of speech.” 

Continually pressed to make engagements he never quite understood, which 
were translated to him as part of an adventure, with a generous but dangerous 
freedom, Feisal had days of revulsion. He complained then that the Arabs were 
being deprived of their access to the Mediterranean, were being driven into the 
desert, and he demanded flatly the fulfilment of the pledges made to his father. 
But governmental hands grasped his in iron friendship and led him to Dr. 
Weizmann, and the much-desired document was extracted from him on the 3rd 
of January. 

It was not published till three years ago, 1936. Dr. Weizmann himself then 
made it known, in an article he contributed to The Times. That he should have 
waited through seventeen years, during which Palestine suffered unrest and 

Palestine: The Reality 


bloodshed deepening into insurrection, before he did publish his bordereau is 
indication enough that it was valueless. If the Emir Feisal had written a valid 
acceptance of the National Home and of the Balfour Declaration, it would have 
been rushed to the Press before Feisal’s signature was dry upon it. 

But it deserves reproduction for two reasons. It is one of the “Feisal 
documents” which are all that the Zionists have ever possessed with which they 
can make the least show of having gained Arab acquiescence in their plans. 
Secondly, when it was produced in 1936 some Zionists and pro-Zionists — Dr. 
Weizmann himself was more careful — based upon it resounding and absurd 
claims, such as that it superseded the Hussein-McMahon Treaty. Till then these 
gentlemen mostly had ignored the Hussein-McMahon Treaty, or had refused to 
consider it a treaty at all, but they did not mind now acknowledging its 
existence in order to supersede it. 

Dr. Weizmann, on the 10th June, 1936, then wrote: 

The present disturbances in Palestine have given renewed currency to 
the story that the promise to set up a National Home for the Jewish 
people in Palestine was inconsistent with promises made to the Arabs 
during the War. I desire here to refer to one aspect only of this matter — 
namely the attitude adopted at the Peace Conference by the Arab 
Delegation itself towards the establishment of the National home in 

When Feisal came to Europe in 1919 we submitted to him our plans. 
Both Feisal and Fawrence approved of them, and early in 1919 these 
conversations culminated in the Treaty of Friendship, a copy of which is 
appended. The text of that treaty was approved by Fawrence, who 
discussed it with Feisal. 

The agreement, the original of which is in my possession, opens as 

His Royal Highness the Emir Feisal, representing and acting on 
behalf of the Arab Kingdom of Hedjaz, and Dr. Chaim Weizmann, 
representing and acting on behalf of the Zionist Organization, mindful of 
the racial kinship and ancient bonds existing between the Arabs and the 
Jewish people, and realizing that the surest means of working out the 
consummation of their national aspirations is through the closest possible 
collaboration in the development of the Arab State and Palestine, and 
being desirous further of confirming the good understanding which exists 
between them, have agreed upon the following articles: 

The articles (some of which have been summarized) were: 

Article I. The Arab State and Palestine in all their relations and 
undertakings shall be controlled by the most cordial good will and 
understanding, and to this end Arab and Jewish duly accredited 
agents shall be established and maintained in the respective 

Article II, provided for the determination of the boundaries 
between the Arab State and Palestine. 

Article 111. In the establishment of the Constitution and 
Administration of Palestine all such measures shall be adopted as 
will afford the fullest guarantees for carrying into effect the British 
Government’s Declaration of November 2nd, 1917. 

Article IV. All necessary measures shall be taken to encourage 
and stimulate immigration of Jews on a large scale, and as quickly 
as possible to settle Jewish immigrants on the land through closer 
settlement and intensive cultivation of the soil. In taking such 
measures the Arab peasant and tenant farmers shall be protected in 
their rights, and shall be assisted in forwarding their economic 

Article V provided for full religious freedom. 

Article VI. The Mohammedan Holy Places shall be under 
Mohammedan control. 

In Article VII the Zionist Organization undertook to assist the 
Arab State with the advice of its economic experts. 

In Article VIII they agreed to act in accord on the matters 
embraced in the pact before the Peace Congress. 

In Article IX they agreed to submit any dispute to the British 
Government’s arbitration. 

Feisal signed the pact [continued Dr. Weizmann] in Fondon on 
January 3rd, 1919, with a reservation in Arabic — a translation of which 
was attached in Fawrence’s own handwriting and is given below in 
facsimile — making his obligations under the pact dependent on the 
fulfilment by the British Government of the demands put forward in the 
Arab Memorandum of June 4th, 1919. 

Dr. Weizmann closed his letter with references to Feisal’s appearance before 
the Supreme Council and other matters which may be left to await their turn. 
But before dealing further with this document of his, 1 should explain that an 
unfortunate misprint is to be found in the printed version of the original article, 
as it appeared in The Times. The very last words, “Arab Memorandum of June 
4, 1919” should read, “Arab Memorandum of January 4, 1919.” In the 
appended facsimile 1 in Fawrence’s own handwriting he wrote “Jan. 4,” in short, 
and The Times printers by mistake transcribed this as “June 4.” It is an evident 
misprint, since Feisal could not speak in January of demands already put 
forward, if in fact these were not made till four months later. 

The reservation or codicil in facsimile, as reproduced in The Times, with the 
date corrected, ran as follows: 

1 1.e., in facsimile in The Times , from which his text is quoted. 

Palestine: The Reality 


If the Arabs are established as I have asked in my manifesto of Jan. 4 
addressed to the British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, I will 
carry out what is written in this agreement. If changes are made, I cannot 
be answerable for failing to carry out this agreement. 

Feisal ibn Hussein. 

[The signature was in Lawrence’s handwriting too.] 

Such is the “Treaty of Friendship.” To anyone who reads in the wide spaces 
between the lines of Dr. Weizmann’s letter, the “treaty” is revealed as a mere 
proposal between him and Feisal which never advanced any further. It never 
reached treaty stage. Dr. Weizmann does not say so, for his letter is void of all 
precisions. He does not explain which was the manifesto of January 4th, though 
the whole agreement depends upon it. He does not indicate what happened to 
this manifesto. He does not even give an inkling of its contents. 

Obviously the one point of interest is whether the demands of Feisal’s 
manifesto were or were not carried out. It is all very well to talk of Feisal (or of 
the Arab delegation) as having a certain attitude, but if this attitude only existed 
in case of the occurrence of specified events, then it is absurd to make capital of 
the attitude without ever disclosing whether the events occurred. 

It is still more absurd to act in this fashion when the events did not occur. 
Yet this is what Dr. Weizmann did in his letter. He tried to make capital for the 
existing situation out of Feisal’s attitude towards a situation which never 

It never did exist, though, as I say, Dr. Weizmann leaves us in the dark 
about it. I felt that the dark ought to be pierced, as after much search I could 
identify no document of January 4th. In the end I applied and learned from 
official sources, for which information I beg to express my sincere gratitude, 
that “regarding a memorandum or manifesto mentioned in the reservation 
attached to the Treaty of Friendship signed between Dr. Ch. Weizmann and 
Feisal ibn Hussein on the 3rd of January 1919 .. . the manifesto was in fact the 
Emir Feisal’s statement of claims addressed to the Peace Conference and not 
directly to His Majesty’s Government. The document has not been published by 
His Majesty’s Government.” 

This cleared the situation. There is no contradiction between the explanation 
and Feisal’s codicil. His manifesto went no doubt to the Foreign Secretary, but 
it did not go “directly” to him, that is for his guidance the Foreign Secretary 
received a copy of the document to be presented to the Peace Conference, but it 
was not addressed to him. In his own codicil Feisal does not observe this 
diplomatic distinction, which, however, has its own importance. But what 
matters chiefly is — what was in the document, and did the Conference or the 
Government accede to its demands? 

Feisal’s statement of claims before the Conference may be summarized 
here. We shall return to it. He demanded that the independence for which his 
father had covenanted should now be granted to all Arab territories in Asia 

Palestine: The Reality 

which hitherto had formed part of the Turkish dominions. This independence 
(in accord with the McMahon terms) was, he said, “in no wise to be limited by 
the Allies, except in so far as the Arabs themselves might ask assistance.” With 
regard to Palestine he specified that “on account of its universal character I 
shall leave Palestine on one side for the mutual consideration of all parties 

He adjourned the Palestine settlement in consequence of all the pressure 
which had been brought to bear upon him. Notably he had been told in London 
that if he were amenable about Palestine it would be much easier to support his 
rights in northern Syria. It is to be borne in mind that at the time the immediate 
peril to the Arab state in Syria lay in the presence of French troops in Beyrout 
and in the northern coastal regions. The attitude of the French was already 
hostile in principle and in manner to the Arab O.E.T.A. government at 
Damascus, the nucleus of Arab rule which the victorious Arab troops had so 
hurriedly installed. At the time the Zionist menace in Palestine seemed less no 
doubt to the troubled Feisal. He wished at all costs to keep control of the 
ancient Arab capital, Damascus, and the price of British help was this 
amenability to ask no immediate decision in Palestine. 

But the issue concerning us now is not his postponement of any Palestine 
issue, but whether his demands in general for the Arabs were accepted. They 
were not accepted, since the French were given the districts which he claimed 
for the Arabs and, more than this, his own little kingdom round Damascus 
presently was invaded by them and its territory taken and administered under 
French Mandate, without opposition from the British Government. In no spot of 
Syria was an Arab independent State established. 

Therefore, the safeguard in his codicil applied, since the Arabs did not 
obtain the situation he had demanded. So this “treaty”, which depended for its 
existence upon his general demands being accepted, never came into being, and 
was improperly invoked by Dr. Weizmann. 

That is not all. Feisal’s misgivings about these documents which he was 
induced to sign and these statements he was led to make were deeper than 
appears from Dr. Weizmann’s text. The reservation or codicil, complete with 
Lawrence’s holograph translation, displayed with such airs of authenticity in 
The Times article, is only half authentic. I do not mean by this that it is not a 
genuine document or that Dr. Weizmann intentionally is using a piece of 
evidence which is not accurate. But it just happens that the codicil he gives is 
not the codicil as Feisal composed it and understood it, and that there is marked 
difference between the two versions. 

Dr. Weizmann’s codicil is Lawrence’s unsatisfactory English translation. 
Feisal’s own codicil, that attached to his own copy of the “Treaty,’ is very 
different. It is in Arabic, his native tongue, and not in the English which he did 
not comprehend. I have been able to obtain a guaranteed translation from 


Feisal’s codicil, which is in his archives, made by a xcholar with entire mastery 
of both the English and the Arabic tongues, and this is its text: 

If the Arabs obtain their independence as demanded in my memorandum of 
the 4th January 1919 to the Foreign Office of the Government of Great Britain, 
1 shall agree to the contents of the above clauses. But if the slightest change or 
modification is made I shall not then be tied or bound by any of its provisions, 
and the agreement will then be null and void, not binding and of no account, 
and I shall not be liable in any manner whatsoever. 

To this are appended the signatures both of the Emir Feisal and of Dr. 

In Dr. Weizmann’ s codicil “Arab independence” disappears, and the 
forceful disclaimer made by Feisal becomes a pallid “1 shall not be 
answerable.” One thing is abundantly evident from Feisal’s own text, that he 
was at heart scared by the engagement he had been induced to take. Here then 
is Feisal faced by an English text which was not what he thought it to be, and 
Dr. Weizmann by an Arabic text of the accurate terms of which he alike was 
ignorant. Obviously he was, or he would not have given his English copy as the 
sole official rendering. The value of the whole document is shown clearly for 
the nothing it was, an ornamented zero. 

Dr. Weizmann never could have gained anything for his cause by it. What 
was Feisal’s situation at the Peace Conference? He represented his father, King 
Hussein, and his father’s royal status only proceeded from the fulfilment of the 
obligations into which Hussein had entered with Sir Henry McMahon on behalf 
of all the Arabs. A kingdom, it is true, was not specified to him as a reward for 
Arab participation in the War, but his kingdom sprang from nothing but that 
participation. It has been said, in fact it is too generally said, that Hussein 
assumed his title of King. What happened was that the Ulema of Mecca, the 
clerico-legal Moslem hierarchy, met in assembly there and recognized him as 
King of the Arab Nation. He was installed by them on the 6th of November in 
1916. As has been seen, Great Britain shrank from recognizing this title and 
reduced it to King of the Hedjaz. But the lesser title had its origin in the greater 
and came to him as a result of the situation won by the revolt of the Arabs. 

Hussein himself in the text of the pact which contracted for that revolt 
clearly and regularly defined his status as signatory to be that of the spokesman, 
not of Mecca or of the Hedjaz, but of the Arab peoples. It was with him in this 
character that Great Britain negotiated, and consequently it was in this character 
that he was recognized and accepted as a sovereign by Great Britain and, in his 
son’s person, given a seat at Paris. 

“Everything,” Hussein had stipulated in a passage of these negotiations, 
speaking of himself and of the Arab peoples, “everything was the result of the 
conditions and the desires of our peoples. We are but transmitters and 
executants of such decisions and desires in the position they have pressed upon 

But Feisal, as his father’s representative, could have no other powers, no 
further powers than those which his father possessed. He had to act within 
identical limits. On his own authority he could take no decisions for the Arabs. 
He could but make proposals and transmit them to his father for his father’s 
acceptance. In his turn Hussein’s role, as he clearly defined it, was but to 
transmit the decisions and the desires of the Arab peoples to the British 

In default of a National Assembly to instruct him, Feisal’s sole directive lay 
in the Hussein-McMahon Pact. Outside this he had no power to negotiate. 
Obviously he had no power to modify or renounce the pact. In an affair which 
involved the honour of Britain as a partner in this treaty with all the Arabs, 
Feisal should never have been decoyed — as efforts were made to decoy him — 
off the grounds of his legitimate activities. 

Had the tricks to this end succeeded, it would have been only a short and 
false paper success. Nothing is more certain than that if any endeavour had 
been made by him to put arrangements with any Zionists into force by his sole 
authority, then Feisal would have been disowned by his father, rejected by his 
fellow- Arabs, and never would have mounted the throne of Irak. 

The entry of the French into the Arab zone, combined with the workings of 
his untrammelled self in that salving codicil of his, set him free of this peril. 
But intrigue encompassed him during those early days of the Peace Conference, 
and he never indeed was set free from its toils. Before long he was again in the 
jaws of a trap of a kind. This was in March, a couple of months later. Some 
events occurred in the interval, such as the presentation of the Zionist case to 
the Peace Conference, to which allusion has not yet been made. But it is best to 
have done with the documents of the early cabal about Feisal, and to mention at 
once this other, the second of the pair. 

In March it was not a “treaty” which Feisal was brought to sign, but a letter 
he was brought to send. He had had an interview in Paris with some of the 
Brandeis group of Zionists from the United States. The outcome was this letter, 
addressed to Mr. Frankfurter, a member of that particular delegation, who, as 
Mr. de Haas says, had been specially summoned to London to “aid in 
advancing the American idea of mass-action speedily accomplished.” 

The latent rivalry between the United States and the European Zionists, even 
when, as at the time, they were working better together, and paying 
compliments to each other, was always cropping up in some fashion. In what is 
known as the “Frankfurter letter” the Americans may have secured or thought 
they secured an offset to the “Treaty of Friendship.” 

This is the text of the letter: 

Delegation Hedjazienne, 


March 3rd, 1919. 

Palestine: The Reality 


Dear Mr. Frankfurter, 

I want to take this opportunity of my first contact with American 
Zionists to tell you what I have often been able to say to Dr. Weizmann 
in Arabia and Europe. We feel that the Arabs and Jews are cousins in 
race, having suffered similar oppressions at the hands of powers stronger 
than themselves, and by a happy coincidence have been able to take the 
first step towards the attainment of their national ideals together. We 
Arabs, especially the educated among us, look with the deepest sympathy 
on the Zionist movement. Our deputation here in Paris is fully acquainted 
with the proposals submitted yesterday by the Zionist Organization to the 
Peace Conference and we regard them as moderate and proper. We will 
do our best, in so far as we are concerned, to help them through. We will 
wish the Jews a most hearty welcome home. 

With the chiefs of your movement, especially with Dr. Weizmann, we 
have had and continue to have the closest relations. He has been a great 
helper of our cause, and I hope the Arabs may soon be in a position to 
make the Jews some return for their kindness. We are working together 
for a reformed and revived Near East, and our two movements complete 
one another. The Jewish movement is national and not imperialist: our 
movement is national and not imperialist, and there is room in Syria for 
us both. Indeed, 1 think that neither can be a real success without the 

People less informed and less responsible than our leaders and yours, 
ignoring the need for co-operation of the Arabs and Zionists, have been 
trying to exploit the local difficulties that must necessarily arise in 
Palestine in the early stages of our movement. Some of them have, I am 
afraid, misrepresented your aims to the Arab peasantry and our aims to 
the Jewish peasantry with the result that interested parties have been able 
to make capital out of what they call our differences. 

1 wish to give you my firm conviction that these differences are not 
on questions of principle but on matters of detail, such as must inevitably 
occur in every contact of neighbouring peoples and as are easily adjusted 
by mutual goodwill. Indeed nearly all of them will disappear with fuller 

I look forward, and my people with me look forward, to a future in 
which we will help you and you will help us, so that the countries in 
which we are mutually interested may once again take their places in the 
community of civilized people of the world. 

Believe me, 

Yours sincerely, 

(Signed) Feisal. 

This mawkish effusion in some respects leaves the “Treaty of Friendship” 
far in the rear. It is hard to conceive what the Arabic version of it can have been 
like, if there ever was an Arabic version. Nothing of the sort in Arabic seems to 
have survived amidst Feisal’s papers. But since he spoke French, a French 
translation may have been made for him out of the American-English of the 
text, to match the heading of his notepaper. 

What bosh this letter is, with its “we Arabs, especially the educated amongst 
us” and “we are working for a reformed and revived Near East” and its other 
phrases straight from self-help conventions in Illinois or Connecticut. 

Enough of the Frankfurter letter. Like its congener, the “Treaty of 
Friendship,” it was the fruit of a stratagem to obtain an Arab document of 
acquiescence in Zionist designs which no Arab body would ever have 
imagined, much less granted. However, the Frankfurter letter is more stupid 
than malign. The views put forth in it as those of “us Arabs” are so grotesquely 
unreal, that it was raw and childish to get Feisal to put his name to them. 

He was being pestered to death at the time to sign this and that. In Paris he 
complained bitterly to his secretaries about it, and said he did not know what it 
all meant. Of Dr. Weizmann’s approaches he said, “What does this man want? 1 
would do anything to get rid of him. He tires me out by his long speeches.” 

A decade later he summed up very neatly his own opinion of his letter to 
Mr. Frankfurter. The chance of doing so came to him in this fashion. When the 
Commission of Inquiry into the recent disturbances was sitting in Jerusalem in 
1929, some misguided Zionists introduced into evidence copies of the letter. 
Auni Bey Abdel-Hadi, acting then as chief Arab counsel, at once cabled to 
Baghdad as follows: 

To His Majesty the King of Irak, Baghdad. 

It has been said before the Inquiry Commission that in your letter to 
Mr. Frankfurter you consented to the Zionist policy. Please cable me to 
correct this report. 

The reply came from Rustum Bey Haidar, King Feisal’s Private Secretary at the 
time. Since Auni Bey Abdel-Hadi and Rustum Bey Haidar had been the other 
members of the Delegation which, according to the letter, was alleged to have 
regarded the Zionist proposals as “moderate and proper,” their attitude towards 
it in 1929 was an answer in itself. But this was the reply sent from Baghdad by 
the royal secretary: 

Majesty does not remember having written anything of the kind with 
his knowledge. 

Delightfully phrased. An answer which disposes of everything, except perhaps 
of the question of who drafted Feisal’s letter. 

Palestine: The Reality 



The Peace Conference — The Zionist role there — Feisal’s vain speech — 
Weizmann enounces Zionist demands — ■” Palestine to be as Jewish as England is 
English” — The private meeting of the “Big Four” at Mr. Lloyd George’s flat — 

Mr. Lloyd George and the Hussein — McMahon treaty — President Wilson insists 
on sending a Commission to find the desire of the Syrians. 

The first plenary session of the Peace Conference was held on the 18th of 
January. The chief representatives were MM. Clemenceau and Pichon for 
France, Mr. Lloyd George and Lord Balfour for Great Britain, Sigg. Orlando 
and Sonnino for Italy, and for the United States, President Wilson and Mr. 
Lansing. Thirty-two States, which had fought the Central Powers, or had 
broken off diplomatic relations with them, took part in the proceedings. 

There were more than enough participant countries, therefore, for the peace- 
gathering to have been called a Congress, as there had been Congresses at 
Berlin and Vienna. Whatever it was that caused the adoption of the other title of 
Conference, the change was justified. Never was there an assembly to compare 
with this one for pure conferential power. It was an incessant series of small 
meetings where a few persons of mark confabulated and two or three men drew 
up together constitutions for the world. The plenary sessions were the least 
significant: they were formal occasions, when President Wilson read his 
encyclicals and chief personages orated. Or else lesser peoples held the field in 
an atmosphere like that of a medieval tourney. The champions of small 
countries and of minor causes, housed in the most astounding quarterings, rode 
in amongst buzzes of excitement, waved their lances and proclaimed the 
superior virtues of their ladies. On the dais the French spectators were bored; 
the Italians basked in the sunshine; President Wilson watched and had all the 
points of the performance hurriedly and wrongly explained to him; Mr. Lloyd 
George, lavish with smiles and glances, was the fickle Queen of Beauty. 

Afterwards he would resume his normal political sex, and over cigars next 
day “get down to it” with the rest of the Big Four in a deadly quiet talk at his 

At this extremely personal, almost private Peace Conference, the great thing 
was to be admitted to the privacy of the principals. The Zionists had all the 
necessary admissions, as inner Peace Conference history attests. In another 
world from the public conferrings, far from tournaments, in movements easeful 
and triumphant as high summer’s, like bees visiting and fecundating flowers, 
Messrs. Weizmann and Sokolov and Wise flew from the President to Flouse 
and from Flouse to Balfour and Balfour to Lansing and from Lansing to 
Tardieu, and from Tardieu to Lloyd George through long honey-making days. 
M. Tardieu was the one really receptive Frenchman, or thought he was. 

Yet the Zionist group was the sole group in Paris which almost could have 
dispensed with these intimate visits. In one sense the Zionists scarcely needed 

to have anyone working for them in Paris at all, since it was superfluous to 
court principals, half of whom (and the dominant half of whom) were 
themselves vowed already to the Zionist dogma. Of the various Zionist 
delegations in Paris the chief was the official delegation of the British 
Government. Lloyd George and Balfour! Acetone and accessory! The next in 
importance was the official delegation of the United States of America. When 
Feisal presented the Arab case to the Council of Six he did so before men who 
had helped to create the Zionist case. 

A summary has been given earlier of Feisal’s speech on this occasion. Fie 
spoke in the first week of February, before the Zionists did. It was an 
unsatisfactory affair, for no one has ever known exactly what he said. His 
speech was unfinished at the close of the hearing and does not appear ever to 
have been completed. On the morrow of it the Council of Six was transformed 
into the smaller Supreme Inter-allied Council, the “Big Four,” and the rest of 
Feisal’s speech was put off to an unfixed ulterior date at the convenience of the 
new body. But no date ever was found for it. 

Feisal spoke in Arabic, from manuscript notes. There was no official 
interpreter. Lawrence translated at intervals, and questions were put to Feisal. 
But Lawrence, as we know, was not at all a sworn interpreter. Neither the Emir 
nor his secretaries (at the time) understood what Lawrence said in English, and 
of course none of the Europeans there but Lawrence had any Arabic. Whether 
Lawrence compiled an official version of the speech in English at the time is 
not clear. It seems more likely that he did not, for The Times had not even a 
resume to publish next day, such as it published of the speeches of all other 
chief personages then. The Temps had a condensed few lines about the Emir’s 
“vaste programme du reve panarabe.” The official document of Arab demands 
seems to have been composed and deposited with the officials of the 
Conference before then. It is this which ranks as the manifesto to the Peace 
Conference by Peisal, cited in the previous chapter. 

The gist of Feisal’s speech, the important point in it, was that the Allies 
were asked to recognize that the Arabs generally formed a unit in blood, in 
history, in faith and in speech. There was no question of trying to place them all 
under a single Arab Government, but they would form a natural confederacy, of 
which each section, the Hedjaz, Nejd, Syria, Irak and so forth would govern 
itself according to its own traditions and desires. But the whole should be 
placed under the supervision of a single Mandatory European Power which 
would superintend the construction of roads, telegraphs and such matters. Feisal 
laid some stress on the construction of a transarabic railway by one branch of 
which Jerusalem and Mecca should be linked, and by the other Aleppo be 
joined to Baghdad and the Persian Gulf. The two lines would meet at Aleppo. 

As we have seen, he also asked for the postponement of any decision on 
Palestine. No doubt he thought that this was the best he could do for Palestine 
to prevent the immediate development of the non-Arab projects, and — as we 

Palestine: The Reality 


have seen — to get British help in saving Damascus. But his endeavours in this 
direction, and anything that he said indeed, were destined to be fruitless, for the 
Zionists already had arranged with the Conference leaders for their form of 
Mandate in Palestine, and by the 30th of January the division of Syria between 
Britain and France tacitly was agreed upon. 

When in due course the Conference proceeded to the creation of the League 
of Nations and the insertion of the Mandatory system into its constitution, once 
more the key-men were the Zionists’ men. Most of the original plan for these 
institutions, as will be seen, was drafted by General Smuts, and in lesser degree 
by Lord Cecil. After Balfour there were no more ardent and no blinder 
propagandists of Zionism than these two. Colonel House, another participant in 
League making, was yet another friend of Zionism. 

Yet Mr. de Haas can state that “the Jews had no official status at the Peace 
Conference” and can go on to declare that because of this Mr. Lansing devoted 
himself to the details of the Zionist hearing, of the hearing, that is, given by the 
Council of Ten to the Zionist leaders. In this statement of Mr. de Haas’s — it 
must be interpolated — the use of the word “Jews” as though it were 
synonymous with Zionists will not do at all. There were in Paris other Jews 
attending the Conference, who went there to oppose Zionism, or having gone to 
Paris to further the interests of their people in quite different matters, 
encountered Zionism and opposed it. Lucien Wolf was there, for example, to 
present a memorial on behalf of the Board of Delegates of British Jews. 

When the Zionists were given their hearing, it was not possible to avoid also 
hearing these Jews who protested against Zionist policy. Their spokesman was 
Professor Sylvain Levi, who held a chair in the celebrated College de France 
and had opposed M. Sokolov’s first maneuvres in France. He had not long 
returned from Palestine where he had gone to represent French Jewry upon the 
Zionist Commission. He had joined the Commission in the belief that it was a 
relief organization only, to succour the Jews in the Holy Land. Here, therefore, 
was a man who had been undeceived, a man of talent, with unmatched 
experience and with the ability to explain what he had seen and heard. But what 
was his lot? Mr. de Haas informs us, “At the formal hearing given the Zionist 
leaders the members of the Supreme Council not only listened approvingly to 
the Zionist claims, but they showed marked displeasure at the arguments 
advanced by a French-Jewish anti-Zionist.” 

Contact with realities in Palestine had made an anti-Zionist of Professor 
Levi, a condition of mind bound to arouse displeasure amidst the statesmen 
whose programme envisaged no reality. Their attitude was that of the French 
minister to whom an eye-witness reported upon certain riots or troubles which 
had occurred in one of the nearer French colonies. This first-hand account of 
causes and results did not at all chime in with the account which the Minister 
intended to deliver in the Chamber. Rapidly turning over the unwelcome pages 
of the report, he shook his head and said to his subordinate, “ Ne craignez-vous 

pas d ’avoir ete un peu influence par ce que vous avez vu [Don’t you fear that 
you have been a little affected by what you have seen?]” 

This reproach could not have been addressed to M. Sokolov and Dr. 
Weizmann when they presented the Zionist case at this hearing upon the 27th 
of February. It was the old, arbitrary case we have seen persisting through a 
number of guises in a number of documents. But before it was ready, there was 
to be a good deal of making-over of still more documents and texts. The 
proposals which had been produced in London in December served as a 
beginning. Mr. Charles Thompson in his The Peace Conference Day by Day 
relates the next development, due to the mellifluous activities of Rabbi Stephen 
Wise amidst the chiefs of the Conference. 

Following his talk with Balfour and Colonel House and later with 
Tardieu, Dr. Wise wrote out a statement which disclosed that a very 
definite plan was under way. This statement included three propositions: 

(1) that a Mandate be given to Great Britain as the trustee over Palestine; 

(2) that a Mandate be given to France as the trustee over Syria; (3) that a 
Mandate be given to the United States as the trustee over Armenia. 

The text of Dr. Wise’s plan deserves quoting a little. He wrote: 

Great Britain should be given, and 1 believe will be given, the 
Mandatory of Trusteeship over Palestine, which trusteeship, 1 have 
reason for saying, Great Britain will not accept save by the common 
consent of such disinterested peoples as our own. Great Britain’s 
trusteeship over a Jewish Palestine will be because of the summons or 
mandate of the League of Nations, and for the sake of the Jewish people 
and the Jewish Commonwealth which they are in time to realize. 

What is noteworthy about these unconsciously satirical words about 
disinterested peoples and the rest is that they were composed early in January. 
Mr. Thompson mentions them in his notes of the 5th. Now at this time the 
Mandate scheme had not yet come into existence. It was only after a week’s 
discussion by the Council of Ten, which at times was stormy, that on the 30th 
of January a communique was issued announcing that “a provisional agreement 
had been reached upon the German colonies and the occupied territory of 
Turkey-in-Asia.” “The provisional agreement referred to in the communique,” 
Mr. Thompson recorded on the 30th, “is the Smuts-House plan approved by the 
President and the British Imperial Cabinet. The reference to Turkey-in-Asia 
discloses for the first time that Mesopotamia, Palestine, Armenia and Syria 
come within the scope of this new colonial policy, so that if England and 
France divide up Turkey when the break comes, they must do it under 
‘mandatories.’ ” 

Dr. Wise, therefore, more than three weeks before Mandates were born, was 
writing with aplomb about the British Mandate in Palestine being exercised for 
the sake of the Jewish Commonwealth. He knew that the Mandate would be 

Palestine: The Reality 


given to Britain and he knew the terms of her “acceptance,” to use that word for 
the firm determination of our Government to appropriate the Mandate. 

In its antepenultimate stage the Zionist case, as prepared for the ultimate 
presentation on 27th of February, was a compound of the ideas of all the 
Zionist delegates. At first the American ideas bulked more in it. Before the final 
text was chosen these were largely to disappear, chiefly, as it seems to me, 
because they were too frank. The process of assimilation by which the Zionist 
constrictor was to absorb the Arab rabbit was too clearly stated in the American 
draft. First there was to be an “initial transition period during which the 
Mandatory would exercise control and establish government and carry out land- 
reform. In the second period when the Palestinian Commonwealth should come 
into existence, the mandatory as trustee would have its functions limited to 
protecting the interests of the League of Nations [whatever those were] and 
direct the foreign policy of Palestine.” (de Haas.) 

Then there was to be local autonomy of a “progressive” character. This 
meant that as the Zionists extended their holdings each was to obtain self- 
government, till by and by the whole of Zionist Palestine would be “locally 

There was to be a Jewish Council with its seat in Jerusalem, to be elected by 
a world congress, which also was to define the Council’s functions. This of 
course would bring into being a fluid Jewish or Zionist nation of double 
nationality. Its citizens, or whatever they were to be called, could be, for 
example, United States’ subjects and yet govern in Palestine through the 
aforesaid Council, which was to have considerable power. It was even, 
according to Mr. de Haas, to have the right to “issue obligations.” The Zionists, 
he adds, undertook to establish an interim Council before 1920. (Of this plan a 
version was to be reintroduced in six years’ time.) 

Colonel House, who rose from a sick bed to aid the American Zionist 
delegates, “met these plans with hearty approval.” He “enlisted the support of 
the American technical advisers” for the already-mentioned scheme for 
stretching the boundaries of a Zionist Palestine thirty miles or so beyond the 
existing frontier, into Sinai. “The demand for a larger area impressed him and 
President Wilson with the idea that the Zionists meant to create a real 
settlement in Palestine,” blandly says Mr. de Haas. All the provisions for such a 
“settlement” certainly were ready; everything was organized beforehand down 
to the limit of the preliminary stage under British Mandate. “Informally it was 
understood that the transition period, from administered area to self-governing 
commonwealth, would last about ten years.” These cut-and-dried arrangements 
made a great impression, it seems, upon “all the American peace-experts.” 
They “warmly seconded this draft which particularly appealed to them because 
it was the first attempt to present a concrete picture of a ‘Mandate’ in action.” 
Heaven help them, the “American peace-experts” declared this seriously. 

None the less, the concrete picture did not survive. But it is well that its 
terms should be known, for they demonstrate what went on behind the scenes 
of the Conference, what were the inner intentions of the Zionists, and how far 
ranking delegates of the United States were secretly involved In the Zionist 
machine. They were quite ready to legislate for Palestine without a thought of 
its inhabitants or a care for those individual rights-of-man so dear to them on 
their own soil, or on any other soil but Palestine’s soil. 

I do not pretend, naturally, that our British delegates were unaware of what 
was being planned. If the American-Zionist draft was withdrawn through 
British influence, that influence was only exerted from “safety-first” reasons, 
was only prompted by the feeling that everything should not be let out of the 
Palestine bag, or that the bag should not be overfilled at the start. 

Messrs. Wise and de Haas, themselves principal agents in the drafting, 
declare that the American draft was on the point of being adopted. “The 
substance of the American proposals was accepted as the text to be presented to 
the Peace Conference as the ‘Zionist proposals.’ To the final form the 
signatures of a group of Europeans and Americans were joyfully attached. 
French and Hebrew translations were prepared and the new phraseology, 
‘transition period,’ ‘trustee’ and ‘Commonwealth’ presented intense but 
thrilling problems for the Hebraists, Yiddishists, and other clerical assistants.” 

Mr. de Haas has a way of leaving out names, just when they most should 
appear. One would like to know who were the signatories on the European side 
who provided these intense but thrilling problems for the clerical staff. Nor 
does he exactly apportion the responsibility for the subsequent overriding of the 
American proposals. But it is clear that Dr. Weizmann had a large share in this. 
He had disagreed (by cable) with Mr. Brandeis over the question of the Jewish 
Council. It had been proposed that the “World Zionist Congress” which was to 
elect or establish the Council should meet in New York. When it was seen that 
this would mean the attendance of seven hundred and fifty American Zionist 
representatives, and that therefore the European Zionist representatives would 
be very much in a minority, Dr. Weizmann would not accept this part of the 

Another important cause of disagreement was, according to Mr. de Haas, 
that he himself wished to use the expression “Palestinian Commonwealth” 
while Dr. Weizmann “demanded references to Jewish Palestine and Jewish 
Commonwealth in the proposed mandate.” It is rather odd that the Americans, 
on other points so frank, should have wished to be discreet about this. 

For these internal reasons, then, the American draft did not win unanimous 
approval. Besides the internal reasons too, there were external influences which 
told against the American programme. The flustered group in the Foreign 
Office continued to be nervous of any manifest disclosures of the intended 
policy. The adjective it found to qualify Dr. Weizmann ’s phrase “Jewish 
Palestine” and even the homely formula “Jewish Commonwealth” was 

Palestine: The Reality 


“premature.” Mr. de Haas, again failing to provide a name, quotes from a 
communication received from someone he describes as “a leading British 
official,” who certainly incarnated official doubtfulness and caution. 

To this phraseology [“Jewish Palestine,” etc.] a leading British 
official took exception. He regarded this terminology as “political 
Zionism” which “can but embarrass the British Government,” a 
condition be wished to avoid becoming public at the Zionist Conference 
which was about to be held in London. He was uneasy over the proposed 
functions of the Jewish Council for Palestine. “I don’t like,” he wrote, 
“political or extra-Palestinian control of such a body. I want to see it 
perform effectually the gigantic task of agricultural and industrial 
development, of organizing immigration as a great non-profit-making 
public -utility society without the addition of political functions.” 

The American Zionists may not have realized it, but the “leading British 
official” was giving them a lesson. He was teaching them how to mask designs 
and was introducing them to that intricate form of self-deception under which 
you do not deceive yourself but put up a pretence by which you might be 
deceived, and act as though you were. In this instance he stacked up lofty 
phrases such as “gigantic task,” “agricultural and industrial development,” 
“non-profit-making,” “public-utility society,” into a species of hoarding, which 
hid what would happen behind them in Palestine, and round which he took 
good care not to peer. He knew as well as anyone, of course, that all the 
activities in which he encouraged the Zionists to engage “instead of politics” 
would be in fact fraught with great political consequences. He knew that 
agricultural and industrial development on the scale the Zionists intended 
would place them in a position of dominance in Palestine. He knew that 
colonization and immigration would destroy the natural ratio of power in 
Palestine. He knew as well as anyone that the gigantic task to which he gave a 
non-political character was in fact the gigantic task of supersession of the 
Arabs. He knew it all, but he showed the raw American Zionists how to place 
one’s knowledge so that one does not see it. It is possible that the reader, 
comparing the two methods, may prefer Mr. de Haas’s. 

As it happened, despite all the endeavours to make the Zionists cautious, 
and despite the relative caution of the text which Dr. Weizmann and M. 
Sokolov presented to the Conference on the 27th of February, the unexpected 
happened and the truth was blurted out. Their text itself was long, developed 
the “Historic Title of the Jews to Palestine,” indicated boundaries which would 
be found satisfactory, enumerated proposals for the Mandate, for the 
establishment of a Land Commission, for the creation of a Jewish Council in 
Palestine to represent the resident Jews, for the recognition of Hebrew as an 
official language, for a naturalization system, for everything, in fine, that 
appertains to the life and government of a Country. 

Further, it proposed that the sovereign possession of Palestine was to be 
vested in the League of Nations and that Great Britain was to be made the 
mandatory Power. But the Mandate was to be subject to the following proviso: 

Palestine shall be placed under such political, administrative and 
economic conditions as will secure the establishment there of the Jewish 
National Home and ultimately render possible the creation of an 
autonomous Commonwealth, it being clearly understood. . . [and so on, 
introducing the last paragraph of the Balfour Declaration], 

The text adopted contained, as is apparent, watered versions of some of the 
American Zionists’ proposals, and the indiscreet “Jewish Commonwealth” was 
included in an anonymous form. But all the care and the circumspection thus 
spent upon it were wasted and the gammon of it was made manifest because 
Mr. Lansing, the United States Foreign Secretary, took it into his head to ask a 

When the sitting began there had been no prospect of anything untoward 
occurring. It is true there had been a little introductory incident. The Zionist 
report of the event says, “The Conference began at three-thirty. Monsieur 
Clemenceau left in a few minutes.” That unambiguous man! 

But afterwards everything continued in the expected order till suddenly Mr. 
Lansing interjected his question. He asked Dr. Weizmann what in fact was 
meant by the “National Home.” The President of the United States had already 
welcomed and sponsored this institution without asking what it meant. Enough 
if Mr. Brandeis recommended it cordially. The chief of the State Department 
felt it due, one supposes, to the mere technique of his office to inquire for more 
explanation. Or his inquiry may have been a hint to Dr. Weizmann. Whatever 
Lansing’s motives, Dr. Weizmann at once provided him with the fullest 
explanation. It is likely that he had been chafing at the bonds in which the 
flustered department of the Foreign Office had bound him. 

Now the opportunity of freeing himself had been given to him. He threw the 
protocol to the winds and answered that the “National Home” meant that there 
should be established such conditions ultimately in Palestine that “Palestine 
shall be just as Jewish as America is American and England is English.” The 
precautions of the “leading British official” and of others of his kidney had 
been in vain. The cat had bounded out of the bag, had torn its way out of it, 
rending the material with its claws and miaowing on its highest note. 

This celebrated avowal of Dr. Weizmann’ s has never been forgotten by the 
Arabs, and the reader should remember it with the same fidelity. Many an 
endeavour has been made in the intervening years to lose it from sight, to pass 
swiftly over it, to obscure it with argumentative detail, but to no purpose. There 
it stands like a peak rising out of a flat place, visible from far and tangible from 
near, and never to be explained away as a cloud or as an illusion formed of 

Palestine: The Reality 


some passing dust. Palestine to be as Jewish as England is English. The Arabs 
in consequence to “get out or to get under.” 

If confirmation had been needed that Dr. Weizmann had disclosed the aims 
of his movement, he supplied it himself on the morrow. In an interview printed 
in The Times of the 1st of March he set out the Zionist programme with great 
clarity. He began with the customary disclaimer, but presently passed to facts. 

We do not [he said] aspire to found a Zionist State. What we want is a 
country in which all nations and all creeds shall have equal rights and 
equal tolerance. [That is the 60,000 Jews, plus future immigrants who 
were foreign subjects were to have the same voting and executive power 
as the 670,000 native Arabs.] 

We cannot hope to rule in a country in which only one-seventh [in 
fact, it was not even one-tenth] of the population at present are Jews. We 
understand that the Peace Conference has practically decided to place 
Palestine under the League of Nations. This is entirely in accordance 
with our wishes, but we go further. We indicate the power which we 
wish to be the Mandatory of the League. That Power is Great Britain. 
The British Imperial System, which has provided for almost every 
description of State, can take into itself without friction a Jewish 
Palestine held in trust for the League of Nations. 

The British system educates the dependencies so as to fit them 
ultimately for self-government and when they are ripe for self- 
government freely and gladly confers on them that boon. 

By the establishment of a Jewish National Home we mean the 
creation of such conditions in Palestine to-day as will enable us to move 
large numbers of Jews into the land, to settle them there, to render them 
self-supporting, and last but not least to establish schools, universities 
and other Jewish institutions so that the country may become as quickly 
as possible as Jewish as England is English. We hope that an 
administration will be created that will enable us efficiently to carry out 
this programme. 

I see no reason for differences between ourselves and the Arab non- 
Jewish population. There is plenty of room for us both in Palestine. It 
will hold five or six millions if properly developed, whereas the present 
population is less than 700,000. It is not likely that there will ever be an 
“Arab question” in Palestine: non-Jews need not fear that they will suffer 
at our hands. For two thousand years we have known what it means to be 
strangers. We Jews know the heart of the stranger: are we likely to deal 
out oppression? 

Moreover we have never proposed that a Jewish minority should rule 
over the rest. Palestine will only become a Jewish self-governing 
commonwealth when the majority of its inhabitants are Jewish. 

Shortly after making this statement to The Times, Dr. Weizmann repeated 
much of his explanation in a report to the Zionist Conference then being held in 
London. On the 5th of March he told the Conference that the “Zionist 
Organization has every reason to be satisfied with the reception that has been 
accorded to their delegates. I consider that our historic claim to a Jewish 
National Home in Palestine has been conceded by the Powers.” By a Jewish 
National Home he added that he meant the establishment of such political, 
administrative and economic conditions as would enable them to settle, say, 
50,000 Jews a year in the country, to foster their own language and schools, to 
develop an administration suitable for these purposes, and ultimately to make 
Palestine as Jewish as England was English. 

The Peace Conference was captivated by Dr. Weizmann’ s epigrammatic 
precis of his programme to Mr. Lansing. Lord Balfour — who must have been a 
trial to some of his Foreign Office staff — was delighted by the Zionist leader’s 
comprehensiveness. M. Tardieu was even over responsive. In the Whitehall 
phrase, he now showed himself “premature.” He sailed with French contempt 
for hypocrisy through face-saving formalities and declared bluntly that there 
would be no objection by France to the formation of a new Zionist State in 
Palestine in (sic) the League of Nations, under a mandate granted to Great 

Only in Palestine did the news that the country was to be made as Jewish as 
England was English meet with a hostile reception. The people, already 
incensed by the ways of the Zionist Commission, broke into protest. Cables 
were sent to the Peace Conference delegates and to the British Press. A 
representative protest was that from the Moslem and Christian Committee of 
Jaffa, which put the cardinal point at issue clearly when it said, “We are the 
bom sons of the Holy Land.” No formal attention was paid to these protests, but 
they were to have a temporary effect. 

President Wilson had gone back on a month’s visit to the United States and 
was absent when Messrs. Weizmann and Sokolov spoke to the Council of Ten. 
But the Zionists did not lose sight of him. A memorial on the “Jewish Title to 
Palestine” was handed to him on the 1 st of March at the White House. This was 
on the customary lines, for the most part. A new justificatory phrase was found 
for Jewish immigration: “the land needs rehabilitation.” Great Britain was again 
designated as the suitable Mandatory. Any constitution given to Palestine was 
to embody the Zionist statement before the Peace Conference, and was to 
contain the Balfour Declaration. Local autonomy, was to be established, and 
granted or enlarged in proportion to the abilities of localities to maintain proper 
standards of administration. (A proviso not unrelated to the supposed 
backwardness of the Arabs and the undoubted forwardness of the Zionists.) The 
established rights of the present population were to be equitably safeguarded; 
the point being that the population was thought to have no established rights. 
(Cf. de Haas supra. Chapter XI.) 

Palestine: The Reality 


It was the familiar programme, peptonized with fair words for the 
President’s better digestion, and he replied in amiable innocence. 

As for your representations touching Palestine, I have before this 
expressed my personal approval of the Declaration of the British 
Government regarding the aspirations and the historic claims of the 
Jewish people in regard to Palestine. I am, moreover, persuaded that the 
Allied nations, with the fullest concurrence of our own Government and 
people, are agreed that in Palestine shall be laid the foundations of a 
Jewish Commonwealth. 

The President, therefore, was slightly at cross-purposes with his co-workers, 
who were indeed lacking in uniformity, judging by some of their statements. 
Dr. Weizmann “did not aspire to found a Jewish State”; the President concurred 
in its foundation; Lord Balfour was delighted by it; the Foreign Office thought 
it premature; M. Tardieu said there was no objection to it; the American Zionist 
plans for a Jewish Palestine were replaced by Dr. Weizmann’s plans for a 
Jewish Palestine; and Mr. Lloyd George was in agreement with everybody for 
the time being. 

Then the President returned to Paris, and within a week of his arrival an 
important event for the story of modern Palestine occurred. This was the private 
meeting at 23 Rue Nitot, where Mr. Lloyd George was living, of the chief 
Conference delegates, to consider the situation in Syria. It was a meeting not at 
all in the course of recent proceedings; it had no connection with the 
presentation of the Zionist case, and was the means indeed of preventing any 
immediate or quick sequel to that event. It was not therefore a meeting which 
most of those who took part in it desired: it was driven upon them. 

It came with something of the force of gravity exerting itself finally after 
long strain against an entangled system of props upholding some top-heavy 
superstructure. All the inconsistencies of the war policy in the Near East, the 
covert bargains, the treaties which negatived their predecessors, the pledges 
suppressed, the secrecy of ally to ally, had collapsed together under the natural 
pressure of events in Syria. The Arabs, expecting the McMahon-Hussein 
agreement to be honoured, found that the French would not yield to them the 
occupation of three of the four principal Arab towns of north Syria therein 
mentioned, Horns, Hama and Aleppo. There were French detachments in these 
places and they would not depart. 

The French on their side demanded that the Sykes-Picot Treaty should be 
put into force and that the seaboard — widely understood — of Syria from Tyre 
to the Taurus should be granted to them, under the alias of a Mandate later if 
the British and others insisted upon it. 

These counter-demands were not merely upon paper; Arab and French 
soldiers made them face to face on Syrian soil, and the position there grew 
steadily more tense and brittle. It was a position which could no longer be left 

to itself and the British Prime Minister came to the decision that a consultation 
should take place upon it. He summoned this secret session of the Peace 
Conference chiefs, and brought Lord Allenby to Paris from Syria to attend it. 
Lord Balfour was there too, and Sir Maurice Hankey made one of his earlier 
appearances as the perpetual squire of the Cabinet. Lord Allenby’ s Chief-of- 
Staff, Sir Louis Bols, came with him. France was represented by MM. 
Clemenceau, Pichon and Berthelot, Italy by Sigg. Orlando and Sonnino. M. 
Mantoux was interpreter. No account of what occurred in the Rue Nitot on that 
20th of March reached the British public, and even now it is from the private 
papers of President Wilson that our knowledge of it remains drawn, and it is to 
the revelative zeal of Mr. Ray Stannard Baker, the American historian of the 
President’s share in the peace-making, that we owe it. 

As soon as the meeting began, it was seen that Mr. Lloyd George meant to 
call the French severely to order. He adopted an attitude which kindled 
understandable fury in their breasts. Fresh from his own plannings with Mr. 
Wise and the other Zionists to dispossess the Arabs in Palestine despite of the 
Hussein-McMahon Treaty, he took in hand the very document he had just 
discarded and flourished it at the French delegates to prevent their 
dispossessing the Arabs in North Syria. “The League of Nations,” he declared 
to M. Pichon, “cannot be used for putting aside our bargain with King Hussein. 
It has the status of a treaty.” 

True as this was, and notable as was the Premier’s acknowledgement of the 
status of the agreement with King Hussein, yet there was something stupendous 
in the way that Mr. Lloyd George could admonish the French for using the 
League of Nations to put aside the bargain with King Hussein in North Syria, 
while he and Lord Balfour were making ready to use the League of Nations to 
put aside the bargain with King Hussein in South Syria. 

Beside this, he ventured to confront M. Pichon with the date of the Hussein 
Treaty, six months earlier than the Sykes-Picot Treaty and therefore the valid 
treaty of the pair. This fact again was true and it was highly proper that it 
should be made clear. But Mr. Lloyd George’s airy disregard of the morality of 
his own Government in concluding the Sykes-Picot Treaty under the 
circumstances, and his endeavour to confound the French with our double 
dealing as though it were a phenomenon beyond our control — these were 
attitudes to rouse the rage of any hearers. The most colossal presumption of all, 
though, was to impugn the Sykes-Picot Treaty and to say nothing of the Balfour 
Declaration, issued in cold blood nearly two years after the Hussein Treaty 
which it so scandalously and flagrantly set at naught. But Mr. Lloyd George, 
untroubled by all this, suspended the moral constitution and took stand by some 
rule-of-thumb to which he and Balfour had the clue. 

With the French though, who had no traditional privilege of escaping from 
issues of right or wrong by acting practically, Mr. Lloyd George was extremely 
stern for seeking to set aside the British agreement with King Hussein. 

Palestine: The Reality 


Monsieur Pichon retorted — I should imagine with some Gallic feeling — that 
France was accused of setting aside a bargain which she had never made. 
France, he said, had no agreement with King Hussein: it was a British 

Mr. Lloyd George, at the height of his form, replied that the whole of this 
pact of 1916, the Sykes-Picot Treaty, was based on a letter from Sir Henry 
McMahon to King Hussein. He took the McMahon treaty in hand and read out 
the passage by which the four towns of Damascus, Horns, Hama and Aleppo 
fell within the boundaries wherein Great Britain had stated she was prepared to 
recognize and support the independence of the Arabs. 

M. Pichon: “This engagement was made by Great Britain alone. We never 
saw it till a few weeks ago, when Sir Maurice Hankey handed me a copy of the 

Mr - . Lloyd George: “The agreement may have been made by England alone, 
but it was England who organized the whole of the Syrian campaign. There 
would have been no question of Syria but for England. Great Britain has put 
from 900,000 to 1,000,000 men into the fight against Turkey, but Arab help has 
been essential to us. That is a point upon which Lord Allenby can speak.” 

Lord Allenby then testified that the Arab help “had been invaluable.” He 
went on to say of the present position that when he had, in accord with the 
Sykes-Picot Treaty, put French administrators into the ‘blue’ area of Syria, the 
Emir Feisal had then told him that he could not maintain the command of the 
Arab army if the French were allowed to occupy the ports. Such a French 
occupation would mean that the “Arabs were to live in a house without a door.” 
On this, Lord Allenby had pointed out to the Emir that he was in charge of the 
Administration as Commander-in-Chief and that the French officers whom he 
had appointed must be looked upon, not as French officers but as Allied 
officers whom he had appointed in his capacity as Commander-in-Chief. The 
Emir Feisal had answered him that he would admit this for the present, but he 
had asked, “Would it last for ever?” General Allenby had reassured him on this 
point, saying that the League of Nations intended to give the lesser nations the 
right of self-determination. 

After this acknowledgement of his reconfirmation of the Allied pledges by 
Lord Allenby, Mr. Lloyd George returned to his argument where he had left it. 
“It was on the basis of the letter 1 have quoted [from the McMahon-Hussein 
documents]” he said, “that King Hussein put all his resources into the field, and 
this helped us most materially to win the victory, in signing the 1916 agreement 
France for practical purposes accepted our undertaking to King Hussein.” He 
pointed out that it was not M. Pichon, but his predecessors who had accepted. 
(For what occurred at the time the reader may refer back to Chapter VIII. M. 
Picot had been shown the McMahon- Hussein Treaty in the Foreign Office on 
the 23rd of November, 1915. He had also been told of a special message from 
Hussein, transmitted through Cairo, that the Arabs would oppose French 

occupation of the four cities by force of arms. On the 21st of December M. 
Picot told Sir Arthur Nicolson that the French Government agreed that the 
Arabs should administer the four towns. But all this information seems to have 
been secreted in the Quai d’Orsay and never communicated to M. Pichon when 
he took office.) 

“I am bound to say,” concluded Mr. Lloyd George, “that if the British 
Government now agreed that Damascus, Horns, Hama and Aleppo should be 
included in the sphere of direct French influence we should be breaking faith 
with the Arabs, and we could not face this.” “We could not face this except in 
Palestine,” he should have said, to be accurate. 

The President of the United States now took up the burden of discourse, and 
introduced another note. It was the first he had ever heard of the Hussein- 
McMahon Treaty, he said. He was interested to know of it but it was not 
permissible for him to express an opinion upon it. He continued, 

The point of view of the United States is however indifferent to the 
claims both of France and of Great Britain over peoples, unless these 
peoples want them. One of the fundamental principles to which the 
United States adheres is the consent of the governed. From the point of 
view of the United States of America the only idea is whether France 
will be agreeable to the Syrians. The same applies to Great Britain, 
whether she will be agreeable to the inhabitants of Mesopotamia The 
only way to deal with the question is to discover the desires of the 
populations of these regions. 

The President might have envisaged things more clearly. He did not seem to 
know that Great Britain in Mesopotamia actually was trying to discover the 
desires of the inhabitants. He did not seem to grasp that the McMahon-Hussein 
Treaty, whatever its imperfections, was based on the Arabs’ own claim to 
independence: it was an Arab claim to which Great Britain gave her assent. The 
President perhaps argued that British assent was not needed, that the disposal of 
Arab lands was the Arabs’ affair. It is evident then that he might have examined 
his own conscience in regard to Palestine, where the principle of the consent of 
the governed had not been mentioned by him, as it is improbable that when he 
spoke of the Syrians he included the inhabitants of Palestine. 

But for all this, he did formally enunciate that freedom to decide their own 
lot was the right of the peoples which had been under the Turks, and thus willy- 
nilly he included the people of Palestine. More important still, he laid down that 
the only way to find out these peoples’ wishes was to find out from the peoples 

Nor did the President confine himself to the pious expression of his 
sentiments. He clenched the argument there and then, in Mr. Lloyd George’s 
rooms, by declaring that an International Commission of Inquiry into the 
desires of their populations should be dispatched to the ex-Turkish countries. 

Palestine: The Reality 


This was something for which the Emir Feisal had asked several times in 
private. He had also spoken of it in his speech before the Council of Six. 
Professor Temperley says that he is “reported” to have done so, showing 
thereby how little is known accurately of the speech. Auni Bey Abdel-Hadi 
tells me, however, that Feisal did mention it, and, as I say, had broached it 
before then when he had met the Allied chiefs. 

The proposal was one which was much less pleasing to them than it was to 
the President. As though aware of this and foreseeing that his hearers would fail 
him, Mr. Wilson ended determinedly with a declaration that, “1 shall send it, 
with carte blanche to tell the facts as they find them.” 

Whatever their inner feelings, the others did not demur at the time, except 
Balfour. The Anglo-French Proclamation of the previous 9th of November had 
been quoted at the meeting, and it would have been difficult to demur in face of 
it. At this stage the Anglo-French Proclamation had not been hustled out of 
sight. Mr. Lloyd George announced that he had no objection to an International 
Commission. The French delegates said they would take the President’s plan 
into consideration. The Italians implied that they would be guided by the trend 
of common action. 

So matters hung for a fortnight. Relations between the French and the Arabs 
went on disimproving. The Paris Press treated the Emir Feisal as an adventurer. 
These attacks, and the news which came to Feisal from Damascus, nearly led to 
his packing-up and withdrawing from the Conference. But British influence, 
exerted through Mr. Wickham Steed, the editor of The Times, kept him at his 
post. Mr. Steed even managed with great tact to bring him and Lawrence into 
conference with some of the chief Foreign Office officials of the French 

President Wilson meanwhile had been confirmed in his intention to dispatch 
the Commission because of various conversations he had with Americans who 
had enjoyed long and special experience of the Near East. It is indeed probable 
that the idea of a Commission had been implanted originally in his mind before 
he had left for the United States. In the second week of February he had 
received Mr. Howard Bliss, the President of the American College at Beyrout. 
Mr. Bliss had with him M. Chekri Ganem, who had been President of the 
Syrian National Committee, and the two, though nothing was reported of it, 
testified before some of the chief delegates. M. Ganem had claimed that the 
population should be consulted in Syria, both as a matter of natural right and 
because of the promise of the Anglo-French Proclamation. 

These depositions and conversations had stuck in Mr. Wilson’s memory, 
and after his return other Americans visited him and impressed him further. 
Some of them brought singular propositions to the President, such as the 
transfer of rule in the Near East to a board of “social workers, but all were 
disinterested enough to press him, whatever he did, at least to consult the Near 
East peoples upon the type of government the latter would wish to have, or if 

they were to be given mandatory governments, upon whom they would wish to 
have as Mandatory. 

Moved by these various considerations, increasingly doubtful whether the 
facts hitherto presented to him were genuine, he determined at all costs to 
dispatch the Commission to Syria as soon as possible. It was an act which had 
great consequences, and one which should always be remembered to the man 
who made it. Afterwards he fell away from the standard which now he set and 
allowed his associates at the Conference to have their own way with the 
distribution of Mandates. But when this happened his health was failing; he had 
become overwhelmed; he was talked out of his thoughts by a multitude of 
voices and was jostled out of his plans by a multitude of affairs. 

As American members of the “Interallied Commission on Mandates in 
Turkey” (the title which was adopted for it) the President nominated Mr. Henry 
King and Mr. Charles Crane. They were assisted by Professor Albert Lybyer, 
Mr. G. R. Montgomery and Captain William Yale (a descendant of the founder 
of the University). Another Army officer, Captain D. M. Brodie, acted as 
secretary. Dr. Haddad, instructor in the School of Medicine at Beyrout College, 
acted as chief interpreter, and there was a competent clerical staff. Mr. King 
was a prominent scholar and author, who had directed the religious work of the 
Y.M.C.A. during the war in France, and had since been appointed to the staff of 
the United States Peace Conference delegation. Mr. Crane, a Chicago 
manufacturer for twenty-five years, had gained diplomatic experience in 1917 
when he had been appointed to the U.S.A. mission to Russia. He also was a 
member of the Conference delegation, and was to become United States 
Ambassador to China. All the assistant members of the Commission had 
already made some study of the questions of the Near East. 

But April dragged through without the departure of the Commission 
seeming to grow any nearer. M. Clemenceau said that he “wanted the Syrian 
business put on a satisfactory basis before any International Committee of 
Inquiry should start.” In other terms, France must be installed in Syria as she 
desired, and after she had been settled the Commission could go out and inquire 
how anything left over from her occupation was to be settled. This showed 
what M. Clemenceau at least thought of the Commission and how much 
attention he was likely to pay to any report the Commission produced. 
Professor Lybyer was told by the M. Gout of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 
who had been approached two years before by Mr. Malcolm on behalf of 
Zionism, that the French Government “refused to make final appointments 
(they had mentioned names of possible Commissioners) unless the English 
would first agree upon the most important matters that were undecided, and 
especially that they — the French — should be placed in charge, in a way, of 
O.E.T.A. East, and that it should not be the British function, but theirs, to pay 
the subsidy to the Emir Feisal.” (Andrews) 

Palestine: The Reality 


The French, in fact, wanted Feisal to be taken out of our pocket and put into 
their pocket. M. Clemenceau was in a very annoyed mood about it all and 
growled about the impossibility of knowing where you were with the British. 
Mr. Lloyd George “had expressed himself to me,” as be complained, “entirely 
in favour of a French Mandate for Syria.” (Steed.) And now Lloyd George had 
tacked and was opposing this Mandate. A little later he complained again, 
“Lloyd George has told me that he intends to demand a mandate for Great 
Britain in Mesopotamia and Palestine. 1 can’t see why he should allow his 
people to contest our mandate in Syria.” Yet a motive was plausible; to try and 
cover an anti-Arab policy for Palestine by a strong pro-Arab policy in the rest 
of Syria. 

It is never quite easy, however, to follow the workings of Mr. Lloyd 
George’s mind, because he has always leapt from good to bad and back, and 
supported himself on contradictions. He may have acted now merely on the 
principle of accepting anything for a start. But it looks as though he thought 
well of the Commission awhile, for British delegates were provisionally 
appointed, and instructions were framed. The chosen delegates were Sir Henry 
McMahon and Commander Hogarth, Lawrence’s old Oxford mentor, who had 
helped so much at the start of the Arab revolt. The distinguished Mr. Arnold 
Toynbee was to be secretary. The three came to Paris early in May, and 
conferred with Messrs. Crane and King. 

Paris was as far as the British representatives ever went. Mr. Lloyd George’s 
interest in the Commission or his determination that Britain should take part in 
it came to an end. Nothing clear was said or done, but if he had any sincere 
sentiments on the point they loosened, grew dishevelled and frayed away. It 
may be that he had become aware that the Commission would not skate over 
Palestine and confine itself to the French area. 

This was in later April. On the 7th of May, falling in with the French 
desires, the British delegates agreed in principle to the partition of Syria by 
Britain and France as Mandatories. The chose jugee was established. 

President Wilson, however, would not recognize this or would not be 
deterred in his own intentions. He insisted that the Commission should leave. 
Neither the French nor the Italians ever had appointed delegates. The question 
was whether Mr. Lloyd George would send his Englishmen out with the 
Americans, who were to go whether anyone else went or not. He withdrew 
them. Their appointments were cancelled on “practical” grounds, understood to 
be lack of Anglo-French agreement in time concerning the Commission. So the 
Americans went off alone on the 29th of May. Feisal preceded them to Syria 
that same month, the situation there clearly calling for his presence. 

The Conference had not of course been occupied at this period entirely with 
the question of the Commission. Amongst its thousand occupations one which 
had relation to Near Eastern business was the question of “national minorities.” 
All the Jewish delegates in Paris, not alone those who were Zionists, worked 

hard to obtain in the forthcoming Peace Treaty two things. The first of these 
was that an end should be made of political discrimination against Jews both by 
the established nations involved in the Treaty, and by those nations who were 
coming into existence through it. The Jewish delegates at the Conference were 
determined that Jews in all countries new or old should enjoy those full 
citizenship rights, which in some instances had been denied to them by 
previous regimes. 

The second aim of the Jewish delegates was to obtain proper protection for 
Jewish schools and proper recognition of the Jewish religion. Both these aims, 
needless to say, were admirable and there was nothing better in the Treaty than 
the clauses which eventually secured them. 

But the political Zionists used the opportunities which this “minority 
campaign” gave them. There were other minorities engaged in it besides those 
that were Jewish, and the Zionists took up their causes. 

All the lesser nationalities of Eastern Europe emerged from the 
darkness of history to put forth their claims for self-determination. And 
each turned to the American Zionist Organization for aid in the 
presentation of its case. It was perhaps the only time that Jewish 
international-mindedness was acknowledged useful by Moldavians, 
Transylvanians, Finns, Georgians, Ukrainians, Ruthenians, Lithuanians, 
Latvians and Croatians. Each was accorded a hearing and each given that 
quiet aid which history and circumstances warranted, (de Haas.) 

There was no wrong in so doing, of course, but each of these frustrate or 
accepted nationalities might be trusted in return to give to the Zionist cause the 
same quiet aid — which history and circumstances did not warrant. It is easy to 
see the working out of the process by which so many small countries, young or 
old, when it came to ratifying the Balfour Declaration put their pens so readily 
and so blindly to the dotted line. 

This, however, was not the only business at the time of the political Zionists. 
They tried also quite a different plan, which is well described in the History of 
the Peace Conference, edited by Professor Temperley. 

As is well known [runs the account] there were considerable 
differences among the representatives of the Jews as to the objects which 
they desired to secure. On the whole it may be said that the English Jews 
tended to confine their efforts to securing for their co-religionists the 
widest personal liberty and full opportunities for the use of their own 
religion and the maintenance of their own customs. There was, however, 
a party which went further than this and aimed at getting official 
recognition of what they called Jewish nationality. They seem to have 
hoped that the Conference would give official recognition to the Jews in 
Poland and in other States as an organized corporation, with definite 
political rights, and there are indications that if this had been secured 

Palestine: The Reality 


they might then have pressed for representation of this Jewish nationality 
on the League of Nations. It need not be said that any suggestion of this 
kind was ruled out from the beginning. M. Clemenceau’s letter specially 
points out that the clauses of the Treaty “do not constitute any 
recognition of the Jews as a separate political community within the 
Polish State.” 

The recognition of “national rights” of the Jews in Poland would have 
been completely inconsistent with the territorial sovereignty of the State, 
which is the basis of our whole modern political system. It is in 
accordance with this that, for instance, the educational control of the 
schools assigned to the Jews is given, not to one general committee 
supervising the Jewish education for the whole of Poland, but to 
“committees” which are clearly intended to be mere local bodies. The 
view taken by the British Delegation throughout and supported by the 
Plenipotentiaries was that if there was to be a Jewish nationality, it 
could only be by giving the Jews a local habitation and enabling them to 
found in Palestine a Jewish State. [My italics.] Any Jew, however, who 
was a national of a Jewish State would naturally cease ipso facto to be a 
Polish citizen. 

The “party which aimed at getting official recognition of what they called 
Jewish nationality” was, of course, formed of political Zionists. Their 
manoeuvre is worth recounting as it shows how the plan of slipping into the 
Conference amidst all the “small nationalities” and of getting thoroughly mixed 
up with them and so adopting their situation (cf. Chapter VIII) was put into 
practice. The historian’s comment upon the scheme too, is valuable. He gives 
independent testimony to the real intentions which the British delegates 
nourished for Palestine, if any more such testimony be needed. 

1 can add a rider of some interest myself. I was in Poland in December of 
1918, when the country was rising to life again. A species of rough census was 
made about then, and the Poles found that very many of their Jews wrote 
themselves down as “Jewish” or “Zionist” citizens. The Poles said that the 
Jewish action had been instigated by the Zionist organizations, and were 
exceedingly wrath about it. It developed still further during the next month or 
two, during the early days of the Peace Conference, and the connection between 
this claim of Jews in Poland to be Jewish nationals and the Zionist manoeuvres 
in Paris is evident enough. In Lvov, as I remember, there was hardly a Jew but 
wrote himself down as a subject of the Jewish State. 

This did not mean that the Jews of Lvov wished to emigrate en masse to 
Palestine. Some wished to go, but most informed the exasperated Poles that 
they intended to stay where they were born, but in an extra-territorial situation, 
as foreigners in Poland, which they preferred to any national rights. That was a 
reason why the Poles, when it came later to conceding these national rights, 
were less willing and prompt about it than might have been expected. 

Palestine: The Reality 

In May the Council of Four appointed a special Committee to deal with the 
minorities question, and in the end guarantees to protect the Jewish minorities 
figured in the treaties signed by Austria, Bulgaria, Hungary and Turkey. 
Poland, Czecho-Slovakia, Greece and Roumania consented to special protocols 
of the same import. There was no one apparently in Paris to rise and demand 
that the rights of the Arab majority in Palestine should be guaranteed by Great 
Britain. This suppression of a majority, unexampled in political practice, is the 
most extraordinary as well as the most baneful legacy of the Treaty of Peace. 

The Crane-King Commission, in the interim, had reached Syria. It was 
originally intended, I think, that it should go to Mesopotamia also, but perhaps 
because the British authorities there were conducting their own inquiry, it did 
not make this journey. Reference to the conditions of Mesopotamia, however, 
formed part of the Commission’s report. 

Before coming, however, to the account of the Commissioners’ work, 
something should be said of the situation in Palestine the Commissioners found 
at the time of their arrival. Palestine was under the Army Administration set up 
in accordance with the laws of war in captured territory, under supreme 
command of Lord Allenby, and established under the circumstances already 

Eight months of occupation, of the entire territory, had developed great 
antagonism between the Army and the Zionists. From the start military support 
of Zionism may be said to have been confined to the Jewish battalions and to 
Major Ormsby-Gore. The Jewish battalions themselves were not so thoroughly 
Zionist as the major, and he did not belong to the forces of permanent 
occupation. As time passed the rest of the army grew increasingly resentful of 
the attitude and the acts of the Zionist Commission. As soon as Dr. Weizmann 
returned to England the relations between the Army and the Commission 
disimproved rapidly. Of the numerous members of the Commission who came 
and went thereafter, for its personnel often was changed, there were some, such 
as Dr. van Friesland, whose personality and methods were appreciated, but they 
were not many. 

Within a mere couple of months of the Turkish defeat, “the attitude of 
practically the entire military administration was considered by every Jew and 
every Arab in the country as strikingly opposed to both the spirit and the letter 
of the Balfour Declaration,” a Zionist Organization Report itself testifies. 

How this attitude developed, and the result of this development, will appear 
later on, but here it is necessary to record the fact of its existence at the time the 
members of the Crane-King Commission landed in Palestine. The army had the 
historic habit of British soldiers, which is to make frends with the inhabitants of 
a country which they occupy or garrison, and the army sympathized with the 
Arabs in general when it perceived the Zionist intrigues to supplant them. 

British soldiers are the least politically minded beings on earth, only 
concerned with their regimental duties and with sport, but they are alive to 


injustices and have their own way of venting their opinion of them. Mrs. Stuart 
Erskine supplies a vivid little picture of a batch of them, returning through 
Jerusalem to their barracks, and intoning as they went a current chorus, 

“And they sold the Holy City 
To the Zionist Committee.” 

A rude approximation, but the voice of the Army, and a sound military precis of 
the Balfour Declaration. 

Another notable factor of the Palestine situation as the American 
Commission found it, was that the junior private of that army was as well 
placed to learn the details of the sale of Palestine as were the senior and the 
most important of its Arab inhabitants. The army received newspapers from 
home and read Reuter bulletins on mess notice-boards: it could follow 
something of the doings of the Peace Conference. On the other hand the main 
characteristic of the condition of the Syrian public at the time of the arrival of 
the American Commission was its enforced ignorance of the details of what 
was happening in Paris. 

The few Syrian publications were local pamphlets. The main source of news 
in the vernacular lay in the Egyptian papers, arriving irregularly in Palestine or 
the other parts of Syria long after the events which they chronicled. These 
papers themselves, ably as some of them were conducted, were not wealthy 
enough then (though they have expanded since) to maintain their own world 
services of continuous cables and telegraphs. Their special news sent to them 
by compatriots in London or Paris was nearly all by letter, arriving with a 
lengthy time-lag. For cabled and telegraphed news two of them had 
understandings with daily papers in London, by which their representative in 
London, or an Englishman so acting, every evening might see the proofs of 
next day’s paper and select from it matter to send. This formed the backbone of 
the Arabic newspapers’ Conference news, but this backbone was made of news 
sent to London on subjects likely to interest the British public by British 
correspondents. British correspondents did not send to Fleet Street matter 
which might be of prime importance in Jerusalem or Damascus but in the 
United Kingdom would appear esoteric. 

The Arabs, therefore, dependent in the main upon such copies of the Arabic 
papers of Cairo and of the European papers as reached their shores irregularly 
and long after events, were at the most extraordinary disadvantage. How could 
they fight their cause in Paris? How could they mobilize national opinion at 
proper moments and make Paris aware at once, in any important juncture, that 
they were the most vitally affected body of all, and that account must be taken 
in full of what they thought and desired and were determined upon. They could 
not do this: they had no chance. They were placed or fell into the role of a far- 
off, unconcerned, uninterested body. It was a miracle when their occasional 
protests arrived within hailing distance of the happenings which had aroused 

them. How could they manifest with effectual speed against what was being 
done to them, when they did not even know what was being done to them, and 
the Conference, with Zionists fleeting through its corridors, took no measures 
to have them informed. 


The first Arab parliament — Feisal summons the Syrian Congress — The 

Damascus Programme — The Crane-King Commission’s Report. 

Once he was back in Syria, Feisal, however, had something of his old 
independence of mind restored to him, and presently took an important step in 
which his Conference mentors certainly had no part. He called into being a 
national assembly. This was not quite an individual move, it is true. If he had 
not convoked the assembly, it was on the way to convoke itself. The principal 
Arabs in Syria had been working towards it, and many of them had gathered in 
Damascus. But he co-ordinated and rounded off the popular movement and 
gave it the benefit of his prestige in the West by summoning this “Syrian 
Congress,” as it was called. 

It is probable too that one of his reasons for calling the Congress was to re- 
establish his own position amidst his countrymen, which must have been 
impaired by his inability to obtain from the Conference in Paris the fulfilment 
of the war-time promises made to them. 

There were in fact a number of reasons for summoning the Congress, which 
was an inevitable gathering. Its convocation was a set-back to the Zionists. The 
hope which they had nourished of wheedling some form of acquiescence in the 
“National Home” from Feisal, in order to give a specious validity to their 
pretensions before the Arabs could organize, had faded. They had got the 
“Treaty of Friendship” and the Frankfurter letter, but the one, quite apart from it 
ultimate validity, was void on its own showing, and the other had never had any 
value of any kind, and was grotesque. 

So their fishing season, so to speak, was over, and Feisal had not been 
netted. They had to reckon with an Arab Congress now, and however much 
they and their friends might try to ignore it (as they did), the Congress was 
there, and it altered Feisal’s situation. 

The brunt of the organization of the Syrian Congress fell on the members of 
the 1914 Damascus Committee and their friends, the men who had helped to 
prepare the Arab revolt with King Hussein, and had armed his hand in the 
negotiations of the time with Great Britain. The Congress therefore was in 
lineal sequence from the early gatherings of Arab exiles in foreign countries 
and the meetings of the secret national societies under the Turks. Through the 
warfare of the last three years these had now developed from the first open 

Palestine: The Reality 


convocation of Arab deputies upon Arab soil to the nucleus of an Arab 

The Congress was limited to Syria. In the future a federal Congress for all 
the Arab lands might come. The great difficulty which confronted it, as we 
have seen, was the election of its members. The British and the French 
authorities refused to allow elections of any kind in their respective spheres. 
Whether this refusal was justified or not is a difficult point. The only available 
roster was the Turkish one, so that any elections which might take place would 
have been according to the extant Turkish law and therefore in consonance with 
The Hague regulations for occupied territory. But the occupying forces were 
not entitled to hold elections, and Arab authority in the British and French areas 
did not exist. On the other hand in their own area where they were the 
recognized authority of the O.E.T.A. and they were employing the Turkish 
system, the Arabs seem to have been quite in order. 

It was six of one and half a dozen of the other. The Congress too, whatever 
the rights and wrongs on this intricate point, was representative. The secondary 
electors for the Turkish Parliament of 1908, according to the Turkish system, 
named the members or deputies of the Congress. The American Commissioners 
themselves agreed that it represented the will of the population, a conclusion 
they reached after widespread inquiry amidst the Arabs and through their own 
intercourse with disinterested informants not of Arab race. 

The American Commission did not reach Damascus till the 26th of June, 
sixteen days after its disembarkation at Jaffa, but the preparations for it began 
to assail its members immediately. In their report, speaking of their earliest 
inquiries, they say, “For the most part the question of a Mandate was referred, 
either in writing, or more often in response to questions, to the approaching 
Syrian Congress at Damascus, at which they [the first Moslem delegations 
heard] would have representation.” Also the popular demand for independence, 
expressed to the Commissioners in general terms at the very beginning, very 
soon began to take more shape, as the deputies in Damascus started 
consultation upon it. This was even before they met officially. When they did 
meet, they gave it definite, tabulated form in what was called “The Damascus 

So it will make for simplification if the “Damascus Programme” is given 
here at once, preceded by that twenty-second Article of the Covenant of the 
League of Nations to which it refers. So far I have not quoted at any length 
from the Covenant or dealt with it more than was incidentally needful. The 
Covenant and the Mandate for Palestine will be examined together, when the 
time comes to consider the Mandate, since their texts are entwined. 

But as the “Damascus Programme” turns so much on the twenty-second 
Article, the relevant clauses of the Article had best be cited textually, as the 
Commissioners gave them to the Arab public in Damascus. The first four 
clauses are all that need now be quoted. The remaining five refer to Africa, to 

Palestine: The Reality 

the Pacific and to the inner relations of Mandatories with the Council of the 
League of Nations. The four clauses call for a deal of criticism but for the 
moment any other criticism than that expressed by the Syrian Congress must 

Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations. 

1. To those colonies and territories which as a consequence of the late 
war have ceased to be under the sovereignty of the States which formerly 
governed them and which are inhabited by peoples not yet able to stand 
by themselves under the strenuous conditions of the modern world, there 
should be applied the principle that the well-being and development of 
such peoples form a sacred trust of civilization and that securities for the 
performance of this trust should be embodied in this Covenant. 

2. The best method of giving practical effect to this principle is that 
the tutelage of such peoples should be entrusted to advanced nations 
which, by reason of their resources, their experience or their 
geographical position, can best undertake this responsibility, and which 
are willing to accept it, and that this tutelage should be exercised by them 
as Mandatories on behalf of the League. 

3. The character of the Mandate must differ according to the stage of 
the development of the people, the geographical situation of the territory, 
its economic conditions and other similar circumstances. 

4. Certain communities formerly belonging to the Turkish Empire 
have reached a stage of development where their existence as 
independent nations can be provisionally recognized subject to the 
rendering of administrative advice and assistance by a Mandatory until 
such time as they are able to stand alone. The wishes of these 
communities must be a principal consideration in the selection of the 

The fourth clause created what are known as the A Mandates, to which the 
Palestine Mandate belongs. The B and C Mandates were in Africa and Oceania. 

The answer of the Arab Congress to this Article, for their “Programme” 
amounted to a rejoinder, was as follows. I quote from the Report of the 
Commissioners, to whom the first copy of the Programme was tendered. They 
state of it that “Much evidence goes to show that the programme prepared 
represents well the wishes of the people of Syria.” 

The Damascus Programme of the General Syrian Congress. 

We, the undersigned, members of the General Syrian Congress, 
meeting in Damascus on Wednesday, July 2nd, 1919, made up of 
representatives from the three Zones, viz., the Southern, Eastern and 
Western, provided with credits and authorizations by the inhabitants of 
our various districts, Moslems, Christians and Jews, have agreed upon 
the following statement of the desires of the people of the country who 


have elected us to present them to the American Section of the 
International Commission. The fifth article was passed by a very large 
majority. All the other articles were accepted unanimously. 

1 . We ask absolutely complete political independence for Syria within 
these boundaries. On the North the Taurus system. On the South Rafeh 
and a line running from Al-Juf to the south of the Syrian and the 
Mejazian line from Akaba. On the East the Euphrates and Khabur rivers 
and a line extending east of Abu Kamal to the east of Al-Juf; and the 
Mediterranean on the west. 

2. We ask that the Government of this Syrian country should be a 
democratic civil constitutional monarchy on broad decentralization 
principles, safeguarding the rights of minorities, and that the King be the 
Emir Feisal, who carried on a glorious struggle in the cause of our 
liberation and merited our full confidence and entire reliance. 

3. Considering the fact that the Arabs inhabiting the Syrian area are 
not naturally less gifted than other more advanced races and that they are 
by no means less developed than the Bulgarians, Serbians, Greeks and 
Roumanians at the beginning of their independence, we protest against 
Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations, placing us among 
the nations in their middle stage of development which stand in need of a 
Mandatory Power. 

4. In the event of the rejection by the Peace Conference of this protest 
for certain considerations that we may not understand, we, relying on the 
declarations of President Wilson that his object in waging war was to put 
an end to the ambition of conquest and colonization, can only regard the 
Mandate mentioned in the Covenant of the League of Nations as 
equivalent to the rendering of economic and technical assistance that 
does not prejudice our complete independence. And desiring that our 
country should not fall a prey to colonization and believing that the 
American Nation is farthest from any thought of colonization and has no 
political ambition in our country, we will seek the technical and 
economic assistance from the United States of America, provided that 
such assistance does not exceed twenty years. 

5. In the event of America not finding herself in a position to accept 
our desire for assistance, we will seek this assistance from Great Britain, 
also provided that such assistance does not infringe the complete 
independence and unity of our country, and that the duration of such 
assistance does not exceed that mentioned in the previous article. 

6. We do not recognize any right claimed by the French Government 
in any part whatever of our Syrian country and refuse that she should 
assist us or have a hand in our country under any circumstances and in 
any place. 

7. We oppose the pretensions of the Zionists to create a Jewish 
Commonwealth in the southern part of Syria, known as Palestine, and 
oppose Zionist migration to any part of our country, for we do not 
acknowledge their title, but consider them a grave peril to our people 
from he national, economical, and political points of view. Our Jewish 
compatriots shall enjoy our common rights and assume the common 

8. We ask that there should be no separation of the southern part of 
Syria, known as Palestine, nor of the littoral western zone, which 
includes Lebanon, from the Syrian country. We desire that the unity of 
the country should be guaranteed against partition under whatever 

9. We ask complete independence for emancipated Mesopotamia and 
that there should be no economical barriers between the two countries. 

10. The fundamental principles laid down by President Wilson in 
condemnation of secret treaties impel us to protest most emphatically 
against any treaty that stipulates the partition of our Syrian country and 
against any private engagement aiming at the establishment of Zionism 
in the southern part of Syria: therefore we ask the complete annulment of 
these conventions and agreements. 

The noble principles enunciated by President Wilson strengthen our 
confidence that our desires emanating from the depths of our hearts shall 
be the decisive factor in determining our future, and that President 
Wilson and the free American people will be supporters for [s/c] the 
realization of our hopes, thereby proving their sincerity and noble 
sympathy with the aspiration of the weaker nations in general and our 
Arab people in particular. 

We also have the fullest confidence that the Peace Conference will 
realize that we would not have risen against the Turks, with whom we 
had participated in all civil, political, and representative privileges, but 
for their violation of our national rights, and so will grant us our desires 
in full in order that our political rights may not be less after the war than 
they were before, since we have shed so much blood in the cause of our 
liberty and independence. 

We request to be allowed to send a delegation to represent us at the 
Peace Conference to defend our rights and to secure the realization of our 

In publishing the above communication the American Commissioners added 
a paragraph of comment, as follows: 

The Programme mostly speaks sufficiently for itself. Various points 
in it are commented upon elsewhere in this Report. It is the most 
substantial document presented to the Commission and deserves to be 

Palestine: The Reality 


treated with great respect. The result of an extensive and arduous 
political process, it affords a basis on which the Syrians can get together 
and as firm a foundation for a Syrian national organization as can be 
obtained. The Mandatory Power will possess in this Programme a 
commitment to liberal government which will be found to be very 
valuable in starting the new State in the right direction. 

In another part of their report they stated that “there can be no doubt that the 
main elements of this programme represent the popular will as nearly as that 
can be expressed in any country.” They were in good position to say what did 
represent the popular will, for they had taken the utmost pains to discover what 
it was. 

Between their arrival at Jaffa on the 10th of June and their departure from 
Adana on the 21st of July they received and studied 1,863 petitions, visited 36 
of the more important towns, and heard delegations from other important 
centres. In addition they received delegations from, as they say, “hosts of 
villages,” according to their records from 1,520 villages. It may be said of them 
that they passed a microscope over Syria, and were made aware of every grain 
of opinion in the land. In Palestine they heard major delegations in Acre, 
Beersheba, Gaza, Bethlehem, Haifa, Hebron, Jaffa, Ludd, Jenin, Ramleh, 
Jerusalem, Nablus, Nazareth, Safed, Tiberias, Ramallah, Richon-le-Sion and 
Tel- Aviv; they listened to or read the opinions of mayors and municipal 
councils, administrative councils, councils of village -chiefs, sheikhs, Arab 
societies, Moslem-Christian committees, 5 economic or trade groups, 53 
Christian groups, 18 Moslem groups, 14 Jewish groups, and a group each of 
Druses, Samaritans and Persians. 

An analysis of the petitions which they received shows clearly how well the 
Damascus Programme represented the feelings of the population. Fifteen 
hundred of the petitions demanded a United Syria. This, the Commissioners 
explain in a footnote, “means a Syria without Palestine treated as a separate 
country. In effect it is intended as a declaration against Zionism.” Only eleven 
petitions were received definitely in favour of a Jewish State in Palestine and of 
extensive Jewish immigration. These petitions were all from Jewish 
delegations. Eight petitions approved the Zionist colonies, without entering 
further into the Zionist programme, four of them being statements by Arab 
peasants that “they were on good terms with the Jewish colonies.” The fifteen 
hundred petitions thus aimed against Zionism were the largest percentage for 
any one request presented to the Commission (80.4 per cent). 

The second largest percentage, 1,370 petitions (73.5 per cent) was for 
“Absolute Independence.” Of this the Commissioners state: 

It is certain from the oral statements that accompanied the petitions 
that the term “Absolute Independence” was seldom used in the sense of 
an entire freedom from any foreign guidance, such as that of a 

Mandatory under the League of Nations, inasmuch as the request was 
frequently combined with a choice of Mandate or a request for foreign 
“assistance.” While a few of the young Arab clubs certainly desired 
freedom from all foreign control, the great majority asked for 
independence and defined a Mandate to mean only economical and 
technical assistance, because of a widespread fear that the mandatory 
arrangement would be used to cloak colonial annexation. 

Eleven hundred and two petitions asked for the type of kingdom specialized 
in the Damascus Programme with the Emir Feisal as king. 

Ten hundred and sixty-four requests were made for American “assistance,” 
failing which there were 1,073 for British assistance. Petitioners sheered off 
from asking for any given Mandatory, because of the suspicions concerning the 
character of a Mandate. For an American Mandate there were 57, for a British 
66 . 

Nine hundred and eighty-eight protests were made against secret treaties, 
especially treaties dividing Syria, and against private agreements. The 
commissioners stated of these that “the Sykes-Picot agreement and the Balfour 
Declaration are not mentioned, but it is usually understood that they are referred 

Against the twenty-second Article of the League Covenant there were 1,033 
specific protests. In 1,350 petitions a specific protest against the Zionist 
programme, mentioned by name, was registered. “The anti-Zionist note was 
especially strong in Palestine, where 222 of the 260 petitions declared against 
the Zionist programme.” 

The Commissioners schedule 1,129 “general anti-French statements.” Of 
anti -Arab of the same general type there were 35, and it is pleasant to learn that 
of anti-British there were but three. 

This analysis, and the other quotations so far made, are taken from the 
complete Report of the Commission. It is a long document of some 50,000 
words. It is not possible therefore to reproduce it in full and indeed much of it is 
not germane to the Palestine issue. I shall confine myself therefore to citations 
or summaries from the following portions of the Report: (1) Report of the 
Commissioners upon their experiences in’ “the Area under British Occupation,” 
O.E.T.A. South or Palestine; (2) a section under the heading of “General 
Considerations”; (3) extracts from other sections which are pertinent; (4) the 
final Recommendations of the Commission; (5) some points from the 
Confidential Appendix.” 

1 . The Area Under British Occupation. I summarize this with an occasional 
quotation. The inquiry was carried out mainly without British help. In all 
sectors the Commissioners endeavoured to remain independent of the aid of the 
administration. But they record that 

Palestine: The Reality 


the British officials from Major-General Sir Arthur Money, in command 
of O.E.T.A. South, down to the youngest officer, were courteous, 
obliging and helpful. As a body they give an impression of ability, 
efficiency, and a serious effort to administer the country for the good of 
the people. 

Lord Allenby detailed Lieutenant-Colonel J. K. Watson to accompany the 
Commission, of whom the Commissioners speak in the warmest terms. 

Moslems were practically unanimous for the independence of Syria, in the 
form which the Congress should desire it. Christians were mostly in favour of a 
mandatory power, exercising real control. The Commissioners visited two 
Jewish schools, and lunched at Richon-le-Sion colony where they met 
prominent members of several other Jewish colonies as well as the members of 
the Zionist Commission. 

The Moslem and Christian population was practically unanimous 
against Zionism, usually expressing themselves with great emphasis. 

The Jews of Palestine declared themselves unanimously in favour of 
the Zionistic scheme in general, though they showed difference of 
opinion in regard to the details and the process of its realization. The 
elements of agreement may be stated as follows: 

(a) Palestine, with a fairly large area, to be set aside at once as a 
“national home” for the Jews. 

(b) Sooner or later the political rule of the land will become organized 
as a “Jewish Commonwealth.” 

(c) At the start authorization will be given for the free immigration of 
Jews from any part of the world, for the unrestricted purchase of land by 
the Jews, and for the recognition of Hebrew as an official language. 

(d) Great Britain will be the Mandatory Power over Palestine, 
protecting the Jews and furthering the realization of the scheme. 

(e) The Great Powers of the world have declared in favour of the 
scheme which merely awaits execution. 

Differences exist especially along two lines: 

(a) Whether the Jewish Commonwealth should be set up soon or after 
a considerable lapse of time. 

(b) Whether the chief emphasis should be upon a restoration of the 
ancient mode of life, ritual, exclusiveness and particularism of the Jews, 
or upon economic development in a thoroughly modern fashion, with 
afforestation, electrification of water-power, and general full utilization 
of resources. 

The Commission suggested that a Commission for the Holy Places should 
be set up containing representatives of all creeds. 

2. “ General Considerations.” Under this heading the Commission spoke of 
the importance of the Anglo-French Proclamation. 

Our survey made it clear that this Anglo-French Declaration and 
similar utterances of the Peace Conference, and President Wilson’s 
Fourteen Points, had made a deep impression upon the Syrian people and 
lay in the background of all their demands. The promises involved not 
only cannot justly be ignored by the Peace Conference, but should be 
faithfully fulfilled. This is particularly true of the British-French 
Declaration, for it is completely in accord with the repeated statements of 
the aims of the Allies, and was expressly directed to the Arabic -speaking 
portions of the Turkish Empire, especially Syria and Mesopotamia. . . . 

The sincerity of the professed aims of the Allies in the War, therefore, 
is peculiarly to be tested in the application of these aims in the treatment 
of the Arabic-speaking portions of the former Turkish Empire. For the 
promises here made were specific and unmistakable. . . . 

The War and the subsequent breaking-up of the Turkish Empire, 
moreover, give a great opportunity — not likely to return — to build now 
in Syria a Near East State on the modern basis of full religious liberty, 
deliberately including various religious faiths, and especially guarding 
rights of minorities. It is a matter of justice to the Arabs, in the 
recognition of the Arab people and their desire for national expression, 
and of deep and lasting concern to the world, than an Arab State along 
modern political lines should be formed. While the elements are very 
various and the interests often divisive and much of the population not 
yet fitted for self-government, the conditions nevertheless are as 
favourable as could be reasonably expected under the circumstances to 
make the trial now. The mixed and varied populations have lived 
together with a fair degree of unity under Turkish domination, and in 
spite of the divisive Turkish policy. They ought to do far better under a 
State on modern lines and with an enlightened Mandatory. 

The trial at least could safely be made under a sympathetic Mandatory 
Power, and made with good promise of success. If the experiment finally 
failed, division of territory could still follow. But to begin with division 
of territory along religious lines is to invite increasing exclusiveness, 
misunderstanding and friction. As Dr. W. M. Ramsay has said 
concerning certain other portions of the Turkish Empire, “The attempt to 
sort out religions and settle them in different localities is wrong and will 
prove fatal. The progress of history depends upon diversity of population 
in each district.” And there is real danger in breaking-up Syria into 
meaningless fragments. 

Any policy adopted, therefore, for Syria, should look to the 
establishment of a national government and administration deriving their 
authority from the initiative and the free choice of the native population, 

Palestine: The Reality 

and should treat it as far as possible in harmony with its natural 
geographic and economic unity. This is the natural course to be taken, if 
at all feasible, it is directly in line with the expressed purpose of the 
Peace Conference. And it is the plain object of the desires and ambitions 
of a large majority of the population concerned. 

3. Extracts from other Sections. Here and there in the Report there are 
statements which must be recorded. At the beginning the Commissioners, 
speaking of their encounters with the public, said: 

We were not blind to the fact that there was considerable propaganda, 
that often much pressure was put upon individuals and groups, that 
sometimes delegations were prevented from reaching the Commission, 
and that the representative authority of many petitions was questionable. 

But the Commission believes that these anomalous elements in the 
petitions tend to cancel one another when the whole country is taken into 
account, and that, as in a composite photograph, certain great common 
emphases are unmistakable. 

They recurred to the question of irregularities later, saying that a number of 
the petitions showed signs of organized propaganda. They had resemblances 
and identities of phrasing. Printed forms were used sometimes. 

The same Arab agent was observed in four cities of Palestine assisting 
in the preparation of petitions. Similar activities on behalf of French 
sympathizers were observed in Beyrout. In addition to this general 
propaganda, which was entirely legitimate as well as natural and 
inevitable, it is certain that a small number of petitions were fraudulently 
secured. [The Commissioners gave evidence of five cases.] 

Facts of this kind, and others, diminishing in any degree the value of the 
petitions as a true estimate of public opinion in Syria, were carefully collected 
by the Commissioners under five headings. But they concluded: 

Yet despite these five qualifications, it is believed that the petitions as 
summarized present a fairly accurate analysis of present political opinion 
in Syria. The great majority of irregularities offset one another. The 
preponderance of Christian petitions in Palestine is balanced by the flood 
of Moslem appeals at Aleppo. . . . The petitions are certainly 
representative. ... It was generally known throughout Syria that the 
American Commission would receive in confidence any documents that 
any individual or group should care to present. In the few cities in which 
the military authorities sought to exert control, directly or indirectly over 
the delegations, without exception the opposition parties found 
opportunities to present their ideas to the Commission, if not always 
orally, at least in writing. 

The Commissioners defined their own terms of reference and the origin of 
their powers with care. “The action creating the Commission, of which the 
Commissioners now reporting make the American section, was taken by the 
Council of Four.” They quoted their instructions, drawn up by this body before 
the split upon the question of the Commission. These indicated that the 
Commissioners were to make inquiries in the portions of the Turkish Empire 
which were to be separated from that Empire and to be placed under 
Mandatories, in accordance with the terms of the resolution of the 30th of 
January, 1919, passed at the Peace Conference, and incarnating the twenty- 
second Article of the Covenant. The instructions continued — and this part of 
them is to be noted very particularly: 

And it is agreed that the administration of these Mandates shall be in 
the spirit of the following document, which was formally presented to the 
president of the United States on behalf of the Governments of Great 
Britain and France. 

Upon which the Anglo-French Proclamation was quoted. We shall return to 
these important instructions. 

I pass now to 4. The Recommendations of the Commission . The findings of 
the Commission were given at considerable length, and for the most part I 
summarize them, with, I trust, absolute faithfulness. 

The Commissioners recommended to the Conference that 

(1) The Mandate should be for a limited term, the period to be fixed 
by the League of Nations when experience has been gathered through 
annual reports to it and in other ways. 

(2) The term of the Mandate should however be long enough for the 
Mandatory to carry through the undertakings necessary for the 
foundation of the new State which will follow. 

(3) The Mandatory should devote himself especially to educating the 
people and cultivating their national spirit. 

(4) From the start the Mandatory should train the people in 
independent self-government, which should be established as rapidly as 
possible. The institutions of a democratic State should be set up. 

(5) The Mandatory should expedite self-government on the principle 
that government should aim not at the accomplishment of “certain 
things” but at the development of citizens. 

(6) Complete religious liberty must be ensured, and “a jealous care 
be exercised for the rights of all minorities.” 

(7) The Mandatory should be careful not to involve the new State in 
any considerable indebtedness nor should its finances be entangled with 
those of the Mandatory Power. The established privileges of foreign 
subjects, schools, commercial concessions and the like should be 
respected, but be subject to review and modification by the League in the 

Palestine: The Reality 


interests of Syria. “The Mandatory Power should not take advantage of 
its position to force a monopolistic control at any point to the detriment 
either of Syria or of other nations, but should seek as rapidly as possible 
to bring the new State to economic as well as to political independence.” 

These seven clauses were tabled by the Commissioners as their primary 
recommendations, to which the Peace Conference should give effect if it 
wished to be true to the principles of the Covenant. By so doing the Conference 
would protect the essential interests of Syria, however the machinery of 
administration might be organized. 

The report then continued: 

We recommend in the second place that the unity of Syria be 
preserved, in accordance with the earnest petition of the great majority of 
the people of Syria. The territory concerned is too limited, the population 
too small, and the economic, geographic, racial and language unity too 
manifest to make the setting up of independent States within its 
boundaries desirable, if such division can possibly be avoided. The 
country is very largely Arab in language, culture, traditions and customs. 

The precise boundaries of the country should be fixed by a special 
commission, after the territory in general had been allotted. The Commissioners 
did not think the claim of the Damascus Congress to include Cilicia in Syria 
proved in any way. They urged that the Lebanon should constitute part of the 
Syrian State with a large measure of its traditional autonomy. 

In the third place, the Commission recommended that Syria should be 
placed under a single Mandatory Power. 

No doubt the quick mechanical solution of the problem of difficult 
relations is to split the people up into little independent fragments. . . . 
But, in general, to attempt complete separation only accentuates 
differences and increases antagonism. . . . Granting reasonable local 
autonomy to reduce friction among groups, a single Mandatory ought to 
form a constant and increasingly effective help to unity of feeling 
throughout the State, and ought to improve steadily group relations. 

In the fourth place, the Commission recommended that the Emir Feisal 
should be made head of the new Syrian State. “There seems to be no reason to 
doubt that the great majority of the population of Syria sincerely desire to have 
Emir Feisal as ruler.” 

The Commission then came to the question of Zionism. Because of its great 
importance I give the text of this part of the Report in full, as follows: 

We recommend, in the fifth place, serious modification of the 
extreme Zionist programme for Palestine of unlimited immigration of 
Jews, looking finally to making Palestine distinctly a Jewish State. 

(1) The Commissioners began their study of Zionism with minds 
predisposed in its favour, but the actual facts in Palestine, coupled with 
the force of the general principles proclaimed by the Allies and accepted 
by the Syrians, have driven them to the recommendation here made. 

(2) The Commission was abundantly supplied with literature on the 
Zionist programme by the Zionist Commission to Palestine, heard in 
conferences much concerning the Zionist colonies and their claims, and 
personally saw something of what had been accomplished. They found 
much to approve in the aspirations and plans of the Zionists, and had 
warm appreciation for the devotion of many of the colonists and for their 
success, by modern methods, in overcoming great natural obstacles. 

(3) The Commission recognized also that definite encouragement had 
been given to the Zionists by the Allies in Mr. Balfour’s oft-quoted 
statement [the Balfour Declaration], and in its approval by other 
representatives of the Allies. If, however, the strict terms of the Balfour 
Statement [s/c] are adhered to — favouring the “establishment in Palestine 
of a national home for the Jewish people,” “it being clearly understood 
that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious 
rights existing in non-Jewish communities in Palestine” — it can hardly 
be doubted that the extreme Zionist programme must be greatly 

For a “national home” for the Jewish people is not equivalent to 
making Palestine into a Jewish State, nor can the erection of such a 
Jewish State be accomplished without the gravest trespass upon the “civil 
and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.” 
The fact came out repeatedly in the Commission’s conference with 
Jewish representatives that the Zionists looked forward to a practically 
complete dispossession of the present non-Jewish inhabitants of 
Palestine, by various forms of purchase. 

In his address of July 4th, 1918, President Wilson laid down the 
following principle as one of the four great “ends for which the 
associated people of the world were fighting” — ’’The settlement of every 
question, whether of territory, of sovereignty, of economic arrangement, 
or of political relationship upon the basis of the free acceptance of that 
settlement by the people immediately concerned, and not upon the basis 
of the material interest or advantage of any other nation or people which 
may desire a different settlement for the sake of its own exterior 
influence or mastery.” 

If that principle is to rule, and so the wishes of Palestine’s population 
are to be decisive as to what is to be done with Palestine, then it is to be 
remembered that the non-Jewish population of Palestine — nearly nine- 
tenths of the whole — are emphatically against the entire Zionist 
programme. The tables [drawn up by the Commission] show that there 

Palestine: The Reality 


was no one thing upon which the population of Palestine was more 
agreed than upon this. To subject a people so-minded to unlimited Jewish 
immigration and to steady financial and social pressure to surrender the 
land would be a gross violation of the principle just quoted, and of the 
people’s rights, though it kept within the forms of law. 

It is to be noted also that the feeling against the Zionist programme is 
not confined to Palestine, but shared very generally by the people 
throughout Syria, as our conferences clearly showed. More than 72 per 
cent — 1,350 in all — of all the petitions in the whole of Syria were 
directed against the Zionist programme. Only two requests — those for a 
united Syria and for independence — had a larger support. This general 
feeling was only [i.e., but] voiced by the “General Syrian Congress” in 
the seventh, eighth, and tenth resolutions of the statement already quoted 
in the Report [the Damascus Programme]. 

The Peace Conference should not shut its eyes to the fact that the anti- 
Zionist feeling in Palestine and Syria is intense and not lightly to be 
flouted. No British officer consulted by the Commissioners believed that 
the Zionist programme could be carried out except by force of arms. The 
officers generally thought that a force of not less than 50,000 soldiers 
would be required even to initiate the programme. That of itself is 
evidence of a strong sense of the injustice of the Zionist programme on 
the part of the non-Jewish populations of Palestine and Syria. Decisions 
requiring armies to carry out are sometimes necessary, but they are 
surely not gratuitously to be taken in the interests of a serious injustice. 
For the initial claim, often submitted by Zionist representatives, that they 
have a “right” to Palestine, can hardly be seriously considered. 

There is a further consideration that cannot justly be ignored, if the 
world is to look forward to Palestine becoming a definitely Jewish State, 
however gradually that may take place. That consideration grows out of 
the fact that Palestine is the “Holy Land” for Jews, Christians and 
Moslems alike. Millions of Christians and Moslems all over the world 
are quite as much concerned as the Jews with conditions in Palestine, 
especially with those conditions which touch upon religious feeling and 
rights. The relations in these matters in Palestine are most delicate and 
difficult. With the best possible intentions, it may be doubted whether the 
Jews could possibly seem to either Christians or Moslems proper 
guardians of the Holy Places or custodians of the Holy Land as a whole. 

The reason is this. The places which are most sacred to Christians — 
those having to do with Jesus — and which are also sacred to Moslems, 
are not only not sacred to Jews, but abhorrent to them. It is simply 
impossible under these circumstances, for Moslems and Christians to feel 
satisfied to have these places in Jewish hands or under the custody of 
Jews. There are still other places, about which the Moslems must have 

the same feeling. In fact, from this point of view the Moslems, just 
because the sacred places of all three religions are sacred to them, have 
made very naturally much more satisfactory custodians of the Holy 
Places than the Jews could be. It must be believed that the precise 
meaning, in this respect, of the complete Jewish occupation of Palestine 
has not been fully sensed by those who urge the extreme Zionist 
programme. For it would intensify, with a certainty like fate, the anti- 
Jewish feeling both in Palestine and in all other portions of the world 
which look to Palestine as the Holy Land. 

In view of all these considerations, and with a deep sense of sympathy 
for the Jewish cause, the Commissioners feel bound to recommend that 
only a greatly reduced Zionist programme be attempted by the Peace 
Conference, and even that be only very gradually initiated. This would 
have to mean that Jewish immigration should be definitely limited, and 
that the project for making Palestine distinctly a Jewish Commonwealth 
should be given up. 

There would then be no reason why Palestine should not be included 
in a united Syrian State just as other portions of the country, the Holy 
Places being cared for by an International and Interreligious 
Commission, somewhat as at present, under the oversight and the 
approval of the Mandatory and of the League of Nations. The Jews of 
course would have representation upon this Commission. 

These were the recommendations of the Commission concerning Zionism, 
and with them extracts from the Report proper may end. But there was drawn 
up at the time — 5 in my list — a “Confidential Appendix” to the Report, from 
which I take a few quotations. It was intended that this appendix should be for 
the use of Americans only, because, as its preamble stated: 

there was material involving criticism of our Allies that ought not to 
come into a report to be put into their hands, and yet that the American 
Delegation to the Peace Conference and our own State Department ought 
to have, as involved in a complete statement of the case. 

The criticism of Great Britain in this appendix is not notable. “Two or three 
military governors seemed to have taken some action to procure votes for 
Britain. Orders had been issued at Jaffa against declaring for complete 
independence.” But on the other hand it is recognized that “much enterprise on 
the part of members of the Arab Government at Damascus,” the distribution by 
agents of printed forms and of instructions, and other such activities, were not 
hindered by British authorities. Complaint and tribute fairly cancel each other 

But an important note follows. 

Palestine: The Reality 


Some British officers showed signs of disappointment at the 
declaration in favour of the Americans as first choice. One of them in 
consequence recommended to His Government to decline a Mandate 
over Syria, and the Commission was informed that Mr. Balfour sent a 
message to this effect, which General Allenby conveyed to the Emir 

This can have been no great surprise to Feisal, who knew of the Sykes -Picot 
Treaty. Feisal, the Commissioners learnt, before their arrival in Damascus, had 
tried but failed to get certain councils to request a British Mandate. The 
Commissioners recognized that Feisal preferred the prospect of a British 
Mandate to an American one, though he said to them that America or Britain 
would be equally satisfactory to him. 

It may be that because of the benefits he has received and continues to 
receive from England, and because of the better prospect of a speedy 
larger Arab union if Syria and Mesopotamia and other areas are under 
the same supervision, he prefers in his inmost heart the Mandate of 
Britain. Ford Allenby “and many British officials” on the other hand, 
thought that an American Mandate over all Syria might be the best 
solution of the difficulties between Britain and France. If Britain 
withdrew then France could more easily withdraw her pretensions too. 

In the appendix the absolute situation as regards “Complete Independence” 
was made very clear, as was the attitude of the Commission to it. 

The nations in forming the Feague have pronounced in the Covenant 
that Syria should be under Mandatory control. The Commission did not 
find reason to recommend modification of this decision, but abundant 
cause for holding it to be just. . . . The 4th Article of the “Damascus 
Programme” provides for the possibility of a Mandate, defining it as 
“equivalent to the rendering of economic and technical assistance that 
does not prejudice our complete independence.” Here also the restriction 
may be too great. The Mandatory Power should have a real control over 
the administration, so as to eliminate as far as possible corruption, waste, 
inertia, serious errors of judgment, etc. 

In spite of all that was said in favour of complete independence, it is 
altogether probable that either America or Britain would be allowed 
without resistance as much control as the council of the Feague of 
Nations judges to be wise. In fact, assurance was given on very high 
authority that the demand for complete independence is to an extent 
artificial, being in part motivated by the fear of a French Mandate, and in 
part by apprehension of the conversion of mandatory control into 
permanent possession. If adequate assurances be had against both these 
possibilities, the objectors to a Mandate, limited so as to secure its 

exercise in the interests of Syria, will be reduced to a small and impotent 
group. In time, when all things are ready, a true and lasting “complete 
independence” can be awarded by the Feague of Nations. 


Importance of the Damascus Programme and Crane-King Report — The Crane- 
King Report suppressed — Syria divided between France and Britain — Another 
letter of Feisal’s — The Zionist Commission takes governmental attributes to 
itself — Resentment and vain appeals to London of the Army Administration. 

The preceding chapter was made up chiefly of the texts or parts of the texts 
of the twenty-second Article of the Covenant of the League of Nations, of the 
Damascus Programme, of the Syrian National Congress, and of the Report to 
the Peace Congress of the United States Commission of Inquiry into Turkish 
Mandates. It is significant and ominous in the history of modem Palestine that 
of these three documents which concern it so deeply, the extract from the 
Covenant alone is a familiar one. For all that most people know of the other 
two, they might just as well never have been written. 

While reproducing them, so far I have added little comment. As the United 
States Commissioners said indeed of the Damascus Programme, they speak for 
themselves, and it was preferable to let them speak uninterruptedly. But if what 
they have to say is very clear, it is not quite all that needs to be said, and I turn 
to them now. 

First the Damascus Programme. When one reads it, and when one compares 
it with the programmes and the resolutions evolved by the Paris peacemakers, it 
is the words of the men “not able to stand by themselves” which shame the 
words of the men who so dubbed them. The feeling arises that these Arabs of 
Syria, in their pitiful disregarded Charter, showed themselves more worthy of 
respect than the heads of great States advertising so widely, and so much in the 
way of business, the absolute purity of their principles. 

The Damascus Congressmen showed no satisfactory title to Cilicia, indeed. 
But in all their programme there is nothing else at which to cavil, and whatever 
they proposed they proposed knowing that they must execute it, should it be 
accepted. Not for them the stillborn clauses of Article 22. A tutelage of some 
kind would be imposed upon them, as they were well aware, and they knew that 
their tutor or Mandatory, or whatever the supervising State was to be called, 
would see that they were true to the promises which they made. 

They showed wisdom; they asked for a State of a loose, decentralized 
character suited to the varying units of their race. They made due arrangements 
for safeguarding the rights of minorities. At a time when to their knowledge the 
Zionists were planning to supersede them in their native land they restrained 
themselves to a dignified protest against this, and thereafter guaranteed to their 


Palestine: The Reality 

“Jewish compatriots” the enjoyment of common rights and the sharing of 
common responsibilities. What a contrast to the rapine of political Zion and to 
the cabals of Whitehall. 

Their claim to be no less well developed than were the Bulgarians, the 
Greeks, the Serbians and the Roumanians at the moment when these peoples 
were freed from Turkish rule was so apposite, such an exemplary parallel, that 
in itself it was proof of the political capacity which the Covenant -makers 
denied to them. There was, at the least, a certain incongruity in treating people 
as politically deficient when their immediate reply to that imputation was 
charged with very perceptive political knowledge. 

When they came to the question of the Mandate, they did not really demur 
to it. They demurred only to the depreciatory way in which it was imposed 
upon them, and their real fear was in fact that they would not be placed under a 
Mandate. They feared that the protectorate decreed by Paris would turn out to 
be anything but a Mandate, in any genuine sense of that word, that it would be 
instead a cloak for indefinite occupation of their territory and for legislation 
against their will. Heaven knows, in these fears they gave absolute and 
conclusive proof of how politically competent they were. 

Their final request is very notable. They asked for the Emir Feisal as their 
ruler, declared that he had merited their “full confidence and entire reliance.” 
When they said this they looked back upon the manner in which he had led 
them in the War, and the manner in which he might lead them in peace, if he 
were but left to himself and could act untrammelled by the coils which always 
were twisted around him in the West. 

But they did not ask for him to be their representative in Paris, or at least to 
be their sole representative. To the Peace Conference they asked to be allowed 
to send their own delegation. Nor did Feisal disapprove of this decision, which 
tallied with his own motives in summoning the Congress. The Congress by now 
knew what had been happening to Feisal in Paris and in Fondon, and saw the 
difficulties which beset him. How could he face gracious but alert Britain over 
the Zionist question? How could he evade the match-making schemes of the 
most veteran chaperone in the world, bent upon throwing him and all the 
ingenues of Zionism continually together? He had been brought to Europe in 
British warships; all the expenses of his Hedjaz delegation in Paris were paid 
by Britain. He received from her a subsidy of £150,000 a month for the sake of 
carrying on his government, and so far she had defended Arab rights 
everywhere outside Palestine. Feisal could not forgo the funds upon which his 
administration depended, he could not endanger the only help he had against 
the immediate peril of French appropriation of North Syria. On the other hand, 
thus beholden to Great Britain, he could not escape from her insistent 
suggestioning that in return for what had been done for him he should give 
some proof of friendliness to her plans in Palestine. 

But if instead of Feisal, or more likely, if in addition to Feisal, a delegation 
of Congress members were sent to Paris, or to wherever the negotiations for the 
Turkish treaty would continue, then responsibilities would be spread amidst the 
Syrian Arabs as a whole instead of resting on the solitary Emir. Furthermore 
these envoys of Congress would have to report to Congress, and could not be 
asked to sign Treaties of Friendship and other such inveigling papers on a 
supposed individual authority. They would not be princes saddled, caparisoned 
and bitted with personal obligations to the British Government and with 
personal connections in Fondon, and for them it would be easier to offer a 
courteous but sturdy resistance to all the proposals for entanglement in the 
Zionist scheme. 

Besides these motives was the plain fact too that in asking to be allowed to 
send a delegation to the Peace Conference they were but asking for their 
bounden right. Theirs was a request which should have been made months ago 
by the Supreme Council to the Arabs instead of being made now by the Arabs 
to the Council, just as the Conference was coming to an end. The way in which 
the Arabs made this request, however, was notable enough. Politely, they asked 
to be “allowed” to represent themselves. The Zionists in Paris had neither made 
nor needed to make any such polite appeal. They had taken their tickets to Paris 
without a by-your-leave, and had put them into pockets heavy with Conference 
letters-of-introduction and bulging with Conference latch-keys. 

Finally, it is to be observed that, apart from the demand for the Cilician 
districts, the Arab Congressmen only asked for what had been promised to their 
race by Great Britain, subject to arrangement with France in the northern 
coastal area. 

Yet all this display of reasonableness, all this manifest readiness for 
accommodation has not prevented the Arabs from being entitled intractable, 
obdurate, entirely unreasonable, and 1 know not how much more. 

1 turn now to the Report of the Crane-King Commission. It is a full 
document and a frank one, amply argued. Its recommendations are well 
presented and were perfectly feasible. More than anything else, though, its main 
accomplishment was to expose unhesitatingly the aims of Zionism in 
Palestine — “practically complete dispossession of the non-Jewish inhabitants.” 

To have this established at the outset by men of the independence and the 
ability of Messrs. Crane and King — before he appointed them President Wilson 
had said, “1 want to put the two ablest Americans now in Europe on that 
Commission” — was damning for the Zionist projects then. It is more damning 
if possible now for Mr. Floyd George and the other Conference chiefs and 
cabinet ministers who were responsible for imposing these projects upon 
Palestine. The Americans informed them flatly that “nine-tenths of the 
population were most emphatically against the entire Zionist programme.” 

If after reading the Report these statesmen entered upon a pro-Zionist policy 
in Palestine, they did so in full knowledge that they would be imposing it by 

Palestine: The Reality 


force upon an unwilling and helpless people. If on the other hand they did not 
read the Report, because they did not want to have it in their hands, then their 
ignorance was culpable and their policy was no whit less guilty. 

But at this point the question surely will come, how was it possible for them 
to disregard the Report at all, since thus to act counter to its findings must have 
been to arouse some degree of international feeling against themselves. The 
answer is a simple one, and possibly may not prove so surprising in the light of 
the previous doings, herein detailed, of men of mark. No public feeling was 
evoked by the Report: no member of the general public read a line of it: there 
was not a paragraph concerning it in the Press — for the sufficient reason that it 
never appeared. The Crane-King Report was suppressed. 

Exactly how it was suppressed is still much of a mystery. How could 
President Wilson stifle or allow to be stifled this testimony, which he had 
thought essential in the interests of justice, and needful for the proper fulfilment 
of the Covenant? He himself had fought in the teeth of every opposition to 
secure the Report. How under these circumstances could he permit himself to 
be overruled by others who did not wish the Report to be made public? 

Something may be attributed, in explanation, to the tardiness of the 
document. This was not the fault of the Commissioners, but was due to the way 
in which the negotiations upon the Commission between the President and 
Messrs. Lloyd George and Clemenceau, not by accident, had dragged on and 
on. When at last Wilson cut the cables of discussion and dispatched his 
American envoys alone to Syria, their departure was long overdue. The Peace 
Conference was ending: the Treaty of Versailles was signed indeed while they 
were in Damascus. By the time their Report was ready the Versailles Treaty 
was three months old. This will have militated against its publication, though in 
truth it was still eminently timely, as no treaty with Turkey had been concluded 
or was within sight of being concluded. 

On another count the frankness of the Report, if it had become public, might 
have affected American relations with France, for it was as explicit about 
French aims and methods in North Syria as it was about Zionist aims and 
methods in the south. The British Government, too, would have been 
excessively annoyed by the undesired disclosure of the attitude of the Palestine 
population to Zionism. Thus the general unity of the Allied and Associated 
Powers, obtained not too easily at Versailles, might have been impaired. A 
particular result of any estrangement between them would have been, or might 
have appeared to be, a set-back to the progress of the League of Nations. The 
President at the time was obliged to entrust his infant League to the 
ministrations of the European Powers, since his own America had refused to 
nurse it. A nettled France might have been sparing of these ministrations. Her 
rulers at the best took a lukewarm interest in the child. 

One would have expected, however, that such considerations would not 
have weighed with President Wilson on the morrow of the Syrian 

Commission’s report. The very aim of his gospel in those hours was to make an 
end of national acts dictated by expediency. 

The most likely answer to the general quandary is to be sought therefore in 
something else, in the breakdown of the President’s health. The relevant dates 
seem to confirm it. The Report just failed to appear beneath his great rainbow 
span, during that period of his power when his imagination was bright and his 
intentions circled the earth. From the day he fell grievously ill, he could no 
longer sustain the struggle for a justice such as the Crane-King findings 
propounded, and his illness coincided only too well with the completion of the 
Commission’s work. 

He had received, it is true, a summary of the Report on the 10th of July. It 
was however a brief cabled precis, which could but have had the effect of 
making him anxious to see the full document, This was not ready till two 
months later. The Commissioners reached the United States again in mid- 
September. It was on the 27th of that month that they were able to dispatch a 
copy of the entire report to the White House for the President. But only the day 
before Mr. Wilson had collapsed during the Speaking-tour which had taken him 
away from the Capital. 

His recovery, such as it was, was protracted, and in the meantime the Report 
was lost to sight. Mr. Ray Stannard Baker, the President’s biographer and 
intimate, assures me that “there is no record of his having seen it at the time, 
nor of his having taken any action in regard to it.” When, in preparation for his 
celebrated works upon the Peace Conference, Mr. Baker went through the 
papers in Mr. Wilson’s strongbox, he expected to find amongst them this 
special “President’s copy” of the Crane-King report. But it was missing. It had 
disappeared from the White House, and what became of it is not known, though 
it is surmised that it may have been transferred to the State Department during 
the President’s illness. 

The State Department — the United States Foreign Office — never published 
it, though it was through the State Department that copies reached the British 
and French Embassies and became at the confidential disposition of the French 
and British Cabinets. There is evidence that the French Government, 
unpleasantly stirred by what it saw in the Report (as has just been suggested), 
brought very strong diplomatic pressure to bear to prevent its publication. In the 
biography of Mr. Henry White, who was a member of the American 
Commission to Negotiate Peace, by Mr. Allan Nevins, there is a note of his 
protests at its suffocation “under pressure from France — the Report having 
stated that a French Mandate would be wholly unacceptable to the (Syrian) 
people.” What the British Cabinet said or did concerning it is not known, but 
clearly it was enough for the Cabinet’s purposes to have the Report quashed 
through French intervention. The result was the same, indeed the result was 
superior, for White hall could obtain precisely what it wanted and yet seem 

Palestine: The Reality 


The ownership of the Report too never appears to have been settled. The 
Commissioners themselves did not feel they were empowered to issue it 
privately. After Mr. Wilson went into retirement he seems to have regarded it 
as his personal property. 

When at last he did give Mr. Stannard Baker permission to print extracts 
from it. this did not occur till just after the two Houses of Congress had voted a 
joint resolution confirming the Balfour Declaration, and the League of Nations 
Council had approved the Mandate for Palestine as proposed. The Congress 
resolutions were passed in May and June and the Mandate was approved on the 
24th of July, 1922. The first revelations of the Commission’s Report, long 
extracts from it, appeared in Mr. Baker’s syndicated articles in the New York 
Times in August, too late for the Congress meetings, where they would have 
exerted a powerful influence against the confirmatory resolution. In December 
Mr - . Wilson allowed the publication of the entire Report in a technical journal of 
New York, the Editor and Publisher, which deserves the gratitude of us all for 
its determination that the Report should be known. I owe my extracts to it. 

Under whatever circumstances this happened, then, at the close of 1919 the 
American Report was withheld, and once more the prestige of the West, this 
time of the great nation of the far West thought so superior to European 
manoeuvres, suffered in the Near East a shocking decline. The Commission had 
come to Syria acting with authority and vested in credentials. Everywhere the 
people had thronged to lay their case before the long-anticipated tribunal, and 
everywhere the Commissioners had made most meticulous inquiry. Honest 
dealing, the Arabs thought, was to be their portion now. They were being 
treated as intelligent persons as men competent to discuss their own future, and 
no longer as dead stones, which were to be built into the constructions the 
Allies meant to raise upon their soil. 

The Commission departed and the Arabs waited, at first with confident 
impatience, and then with increasing disquiet. They waited and waited, but 
nothing was said, nothing done. By degrees the old silence and boycott closed 
round them again, worse this time because of their spent hopes. The sullen 
feeling of being tricked possessed them more heavily than ever, and of 
resentment against the parties responsible. 

The immediate and tangible effect of non-publication of course was that the 
labours of the Syrian Congress came to naught, though the members continued 
restively in session till the 1st of December. Feisal, tired and very worried, 
returned to Europe to try and discover what was to be the fate of his 
countrymen under a Convention which had been signed between Great Britain 
and France on the 15th of September, after a couple of months’ negotiation. 

Negotiations upon various points had been going on in lesser or greater 
quiet during the months just before and just after the signing of the Versailles 
Treaty. Sometimes the quiet ended in a little hubbub, as in May, when “it 
suddenly emerged that British and French commercial interests were 

negotiating for the laying of a pipe -line from the Mesopotamian oil-fields to the 
port of Tripoli.” The emergence unfortunately was into the midst of American 
treaty-making circles, and protests rained on Mr - . Lloyd George. He said he 
knew nothing of the business, and had written to M. Clemenceau to cancel the 
whole of the negotiations. However, the question of oil was not to disappear. 
But later conversations took a more official turn, and gushes of oil-news were 
kept under restraint. 

Zionist negotiations, which did not come to the surface, also went on with 
both French and British Governments. Dr. Weizmann and M. Sokolov, who 
generally conducted them, were by now so sure of the eventual identity of the 
National Home with all Palestine that they concerned themselves seriously with 
the future boundaries to be assigned to the country. “Every effort was made to 
urge upon the British and the French Governments the justice and the necessity 
of the Zionist proposals in regard to the boundaries. Mr. Balfour was 
particularly impressed in Conversation with Dr. Weizmann and Mr. Brandeis in 
August with the economic arguments in regard to the northern boundary.” Next 
month, in Paris, MM. Pichon and de Caix “formally promised Dr. Weizmann 
that Zionist representatives would be heard when the question of the Syria- 
Palestine frontier was discussed between England and France.” (Z.O.R.) 

1 have found no record of whether the Zionist leaders were in Paris When 
the Anglo-French Convention of the 15th of September was signed. If they 
were not there physically, they were there in spirit, because the Convention, 
though not a final one, marked the beginning of the division of Syria into two, 
according to Zionist desires and to those of the British Government. On the 
surface it dealt with the northern areas to be evacuated by British and to be 
occupied by French troops, but in practice Britain then created Palestine as a 
unit: which thenceforward she intended to occupy. France did the same by 
North Syria, though there difficulties arose through the presence of the Arab 
administration, and the dispersion of Arab troops. 

A provisional Franco-British frontier was arranged across the middle of 
Syria, by which military occupation was demarcated on Sykes-Picot lines. Mr. 
Lloyd George quoted the biblical limits “from Dan to Beersheba” as the 
boundary he would desire. He used the phrase with inner realization, without 
doubt, of its comprehensive vagueness. M. Clemenceau, who was carrying on 
the negotiations with him, listened and endured. The Convention was signed 
“without prejudice” to any future alterations which might ensue when the 
Turkish Peace Conference should determine what Clemenceau unbiblically 
described as “the political organization of the Levant.” 

A compromise was reached concerning the four cities of the Sykes-Picot 
“A” zone; Damascus, Homs, Hama and Aleppo. The British troops were to quit 
them, but the French were not to enter them. It was to the French, however, that 
in this area the Arabs were to appeal for “help and advice.” From now on the 
Arabs’ eyes in this matter of help and advice were to be fixed in a perpetual 

Palestine: The Reality 


squint, their right eye to the French, their left to the British. One of the most 
genial arrangements of the post-war period. 

All this prenatal determination of Mandatory areas happened a full half-year 
before Great Britain and France were formally “chosen,” by each other and 
friends, as Mandatories for their respective halves of Syria. 

A French semi-official statement covering the Convention evidenced too the 
gentle seep of the oil of Irak back into consideration. It ran, “it does not appear 
that the district of Mosul is included in the regions wherein Great Britain feels 
that she can cease to be responsible for the maintenance of order.” 

When Feisal arrived in London to inquire into the lot of the Arabs under the 
Convention he had several interviews with Mr. Lloyd George and with Lord 
Curzon, who in January had succeeded Balfour as Foreign Secretary. As early 
as October 1918 Curzon had taken over the London direction of the Foreign 
Office while Balfour was kept in Paris. Three months later he took over the 
official position of Foreign Secretary itself. Balfour, however, stayed in the 
Cabinet with a sinecure office, exercising his influence in Paris upon the 
conduct of the Peace Conference. 

The intention of Curzon’ s appointment without doubt was to have a Foreign 
Secretary who could attend to current affairs in the Foreign Office in the midst 
of the appropriate staff, instead of one who was abroad, dissociated from his 
own headquarters, and only able to give attention to the rest of his work in the 
time he could spare from one special section of it, the Peace Treaty. 

But things did not turn out as had been hoped. Balfour in his seeming- 
careless way stuck to most of the attributes of the position which he had 
resigned, and the practical sequel of the change was that Great Britain now had 
two Foreign Secretaries, one at home, and one abroad. Curzon himself has 
described the resultant situation, seven months after he had taken office, in 
August. There had been confused and lengthy Cabinet meetings about Turkish 
affairs. Two of these lasted for five hours. But no headway was made. In Lord 
Curzon’s words, “A.J.B. is in Paris pursuing one policy. I am here pursuing 
another. No one knows what ought to be done, and we go on getting deeper and 
deeper into the mire.” (Ronaldshay.) 

Therefore from the point of view of the Arabs the arrival of Curzon at the 
Foreign Office, as long as Balfour stayed in power in Paris, did not make much 
difference. It remains hard to disentangle Lord Curzon’s own attitude towards 
them and their country. He seems to have given most of his intention to the 
purely Turkish part of the Turkish Treaty. Perhaps the most notable indication 
of his attitude is to be found in the very slight reference to the affairs of 
Palestine in Lord Ronaldshay’ s biography of the Marquess. 

Curzon and Lloyd George together received Feisal on a couple of occasions, 
and assured him that the promises made to the Arabs would be kept. Mr. Lloyd 
George declared that “the engagements taken by Sir Henry McMahon were as 
valid and important as the [Sykes-Picot] 1916 agreement between Britain and 

France.” Excellently proper as this acknowledgement was, it was in style 
equivalent to saying that a first-born was as much the eldest son as a cadet. 

In a noble mood at a Downing Street meeting the Prime Minister declared 
that “The Arab forces have redeemed the pledges given to Great Britain, and 
we shall redeem our pledges.” But afterwards he explained to Feisal that in 
Syria this British redemption would take place only at the expense of French 
demands. He and Curzon informed Feisal that they considered the “main point” 
of British pledges to the Arabs to be the inclusion in the Arab area of the four 
towns of the desert -fringe, Damascus, Homs, Hama, and Aleppo. 

Feisal was given no choice, and had to take what was offered to him. He 
accepted the French “help” of the September Convention. With superb irony, 
which escaped all comment, arrangements were made for a neutral zone to be 
delimited in order to keep Feisal’s area safely separate from the area of those to 
whom he was to turn for advice and assistance. When he went to Paris, too, to 
discuss details, he learned from M. Clemenceau that “the undertaking of the 
French not to occupy the four towns was conditional on the ability of the 
Damascus Government to keep order and to suppress anti-French propaganda.” 
All this recalled the Austrian demands upon Serbia in July of 1914. The vieux 
routier, Clemenceau, was taking in fine the old road to intervention. 

By now Feisal had gained much experience of Allied leaders. Someone was 
misguided or mischievous enough to ask him one day his opinion in general of 
these statesmen. The Emir, who had been visiting art-exhibitions, answered, 
“They are like impressionist pictures. The effect is excellent from a distance.” 
Of Mr. Lloyd George in particular he said, “I ask him for independence and he 
gives me memorandums.” One of these memorandums Feisal, after hearing its 
contents, would not even take into his hands out of Mr. Lloyd George’s. He 
“refused it with the greatest energy,” very likely with as much energy as it had 
been proffered to him. 

Between times, in London that autumn, in October, Feisal gave an interview 
of some importance to a member of the staff of the Jewish Chronicle , an 
influential, active and well-written organ of English Jewry. This interview is 
useful for its bearing on his real attitude towards Zionism. He told his 
interviewer that “Palestine is and must remain part and parcel of Syria.” Arab 
Palestine, he went on, was not a country but a province. There was no natural 
boundary between the two “countries” (the future French “Syria” and 
Palestine). He added that he raised no objection to Dr. Weizmann’s proposals. 
But it seems evident that he still had no clear idea what these proposals meant, 
or that they had never been told him fully, for his interviewer had to explain 
plainly to him that the whole of Jewry, relying on the Balfour Declaration, 
looked to setting up in Palestine a “National Home” which would be ultimately 
a Jewish State. 

Feisal answered that “such aspirations clashed with Arab ideas.” He 
appealed for the co-operation of the Jews in the formation of an Arab kingdom. 

Palestine: The Reality 


when a concentration of Jews into it might make of Palestine “a sub-section of 
the Arab kingdom.” 

Mr. Kallen throws some further light upon Feisal’s idea then of an 
arrangement with the Zionists, saying “Feisal was to give a sort of Mandate for 
Palestine, and was to guarantee Jewish rights there by means of a minority- 
treaty such as the Jews had promulgated for themselves in Central Europe.” 
With regard to this, it must be remembered that this or any other treaty or 
arrangement must have been submitted by Feisal to his father, who at the time 
could not have disposed of it himself, with the Syrian Congress in being. King 
Hussein, incidentally, had refused to ratify the Versailles Treaty though Feisal 
had signed it, because of the failure of the Allies to concede in it, or to give 
surety of conceding in any subsequent treaty, the Arab independence which 
Great Britain had guaranteed. We had promised not to conclude a treaty with 
the enemy without enshrining this independence amidst the conditions. Though 
the Versailles Treaty was with the German enemy only, Hussein was afraid that 
if he let the matter pass, he might be considered to have abdicated the principle 
of the inclusion of Arab independence in any subsequent treaty. 

Feisal’s interview in the Jewish Chronicle was productive of some Zionist 
reaction. As Sir Herbert Samuel was the party concerned it will be best to give 
his own account of it, which occurs in a lecture upon “Great Britain and 
Palestine” he gave before the Jewish Historical Society of England, at 
FTniversity College in Gower Street, on November 25th, 1935. It was the 
second “Fucien Wolf Memorial Fecture,” though I trust it will not be taken 
amiss if I say that the one thing which the learned society and the distinguished 
orator did on this occasion was to forget Fucien Wolf. 

Eater in that year (1919) [said Sir Herbert Samuel] some misunderstanding 
arose owing to the terms of an interview with Feisal which had appeared in the 
Jewish Chronicle of Fondon, and I had taken steps to remove it. Among my 
papers relating to that time is a letter signed by Feisal, of which the following is 
a translation from the French: 

Peace Conference, 

Secretariat of the Hedjaz Delegation, 


December 10th, 1919. 

Dear Mr. Samuel, 

I have been very glad to learn that you had taken the opportunity of 
the second anniversary in commemoration of the Balfour Declaration to 
dissipate the misunderstanding created by the publication of the 
interview with me in the newspaper, the Jewish Chronicle , last month. I 
am firmly convinced that the mutual confidence established between us, 
and the perfect accord in our point of view, which has permitted a perfect 

understanding between Dr. Weizmann and myself, will prevent similar 
misunderstandings in future, and will maintain that harmony between us 
which is so necessary for the success of our common cause. 

Accept, dear Sir, the assurance of my highest consideration. 


It is impossible [commented Sir Herbert Samuel] that a letter should have 
been written in such terms by the authorized representative of the Arab 
Movement if there had been at that time any real sense of grievance against the 
policy which was being pursued, or any feeling that the Balfour Declaration 
was itself a violation of pledges that had previously been given to the leaders of 
the movement. 

In this comment Sir Herbert Samuel strayed somewhat from those good 
standards of his own which it has been so satisfactory to acknowledge. It was 
not just and it was utterly incorrect to suggest, as the terms used by him did 
suggest, that in writing this letter — as indeed in writing or in signing the 
Frankfurter letter and the “Treaty of Friendship” — Feisal acted on behalf or by 
the desire of the “Arab Movement,” or of its leaders. There was not a leader or 
a sub-leader, there was not one simple adherent of Arab nationalism who had 
authorized these documents. They began with Feisal and ended with Feisal, and 
as Feisal’s own production, unsubmitted to his father or to the other “leaders of 
the movement,” they have not the slightest value as final expressions of Arab 

The very reverse of Sir Herbert Samuel’s argument is true. It was perfectly 
possible that a letter should have been written in such terms while there was a 
real sense of grievance against the policy which was being pursued. Such a 
letter could be written by an isolated and badgered man in Paris, committing 
himself to nothing, and it was so written. The vagueness of it will be noted. 
What was the misunderstanding? Upon what was there perfect accord? Was 
Feisal in complete accord that the Arabs should lose supremacy in Palestine? It 
is not to be believed. If he had nourished any such designs, he would have been 
sent packing by those he represented, like any other negotiator who had 
overstepped his role and exceeded his instructions. 

The unfortunate prince, after this third tooth, as it were, had been extracted 
from him under the gas of cordiality, remained in Europe for another couple of 
months, to no particular advantage. There was a lull in Near Eastern affairs, 
though the Zionists continued their lobbying. Curzon and Milner were induced 
by M. Sokolov to agree to give their support to the frontier -line which he and 
Dr. Weizmann proposed. Dr. Weizmann, who had gone to Palestine, “won Ford 
Allenby’s support from the military standpoint.” (Z.O.R.) 

Ford Balfour, back in Fondon, enjoyed himself in Parliament. He 
announced in shocked tones that it had been “openly stated” that Great Britain 
meant to remain the dominant Power in Syria. “There is not now,” said he, “and 

Palestine: The Reality 


never has been any shadow of truth in that statement. It is an utter and total 
perversion of the truth.” Loud and prolonged cheers greeted this exhibition of 

1920 arrived, a year of great moment. It saw the suffocation of what little 
Arab rule had been left in Syria and the end of military government in 
Palestine. It saw also the arrival of the first High Commissioner to establish 
there mandatory administration, under a Mandate, however, which was not yet 
in existence. 

The reasons for this latter sufficiently astonishing move will be discussed in 
due course. But it may be said now that it sprang principally from the desires of 
the Zionist leaders that there should be a change in the character of government. 
The rift between their followers in Palestine and the Army Administration, 
especially between the Army Administration and the Zionist Commission, was 
widening to a chasm. Conflicts of authority had occurred on a certain scale, and 
the chief of them will be recorded. Much of what happened was stifled. The 
British people, that is to say, never heard of it. But Palestine itself was alive to 
the incessant disputes between the Zionist Commission and most of the British 
officers in charge of the territory. By this time the Zionist Commission was 
fulfilling altogether the inner intentions of those who had dispatched it to the 
Holy Land. It had extended its size gradually, till in the spring of 1920 it 
consisted of a full hundred members, eked out by camp-followers of every 
degree of administrative sutlership. It had arrogated to itself the privileges of a 
ruling hierarchy, and was endeavouring to act as a Government within the 
actual Government, and outside of it also, through its intimate relations with 
statesmen in England. 

The members of the military Government were driven into continual 
protests against it, protests which, alas, were disregarded studiously in London. 
“A complete administrative machine is operating, in fact its departments 
correspond in numbers exactly to my own. This Administration within an 
Administration renders good government impossible, and the Jews look to their 
administration and not to mine, while the Moslems and Christians can only see 
that privileges and liberties are allowed to Jews which are denied to them.” 

Whose words are these? Those of the Chief Administrator of Palestine 
himself, written in the month of April. 

The Zionist Commission was modelled upon a Cabinet. Its ministers kept 
changing, but the following list represents it at a given period of that spring of 
1920, and the Cabinet -character of the body is evident. 

Zionist Commission. 

Dr. Weizmann. 

Mr. M. Ussishkin. 

Messrs. Ruppin, Yafee and Eder. 
Dr. van Vriesland. 

Mr. R. D. Kessel. 

Chief Accountant 




Agriculture and 
Technical Affairs 
Legal Affairs 

Trade and Industry 













Port Said 

Mr. Max Nurock. 
Mr. J. Braude. 

Dr. Eder. 

Dr. de Sola Pool. 

Dr. J. Ettinger. 

Messrs. Wilbushewitz, Hecker and Rutenberg. 
Dr. J. Thon. 

Mr. I. Wilkanskj. 

Messrs. Agronski and Almalich. 

Mr. I. Epstein. 

Mr. Shenkin. 

Dr. Lurie. 

Dr. van Vriesland. 

Mr. M. Cohen. 

Mr. J. Papper. 

Mr. E. V. Levin-Epstein. 

Mr. A. Abrahams. 

Dr. M. Glicken. 

Mr. I. Hibbashan. 

Mr. I. Yankowskj. 

Mr. A. Alexander. 

Mr. I. Idelowitz. 

Mr. M. Mirovitch. 

A list comprehensive enough for Whitehall, and even extended by a species 
of bijou consular service in Egypt. 

The ways in which this body interfered with the Administration’s 
prerogatives and countered the Administration’s actions were only too diverse. 
The Zionist Commission held elections for a “Constituent Assembly” without 
reference to the Chief Administrator, the aim of these elections being to 
consolidate in this Assembly, under the control of the Commission, all the Jews 
of Palestine. This was done despite the protests of the Orthodox Jews, who then 
were at the very least a quarter of the Jewish community. Their leaders, Chief 
Rabbi Zonnenfeld and Rabbi Diskin, protested to the Government against these 
elections. They were, said they, nothing but an endeavour to drown the voices 
and to dominate the lives of those Jews who looked on Palestine as the shrine 
of their religious faith, and not as a mere hub of Jewish racialism. 

The Commission established permanent courts for the trial of ordinary civil 
cases. A formal complaint against these courts was made by the 

Palestine: The Reality 


Administration, blit in the absence of any instruction or any sort of support 
from London it could do nothing but complain. 

The American Zionist Medical Unit (that which had obtained special Zionist 
passports for the journey), good as its work was in itself, would not hear of 
acting under the control of the Public Health Department. It toured the country 
without authorization, and was involved in quarrels with Arab municipalities 
because it carried out inspections of Moslem houses through its own uniformed 
inspectors, who entered them without the consent of the inhabitants and as 
though enjoying the very Governmental authority which its members had 
refused to accept for themselves. 

The Commission made open protests against Government measures which 
were not to its taste. One notorious example was when the Administration 
instituted a fund to help native agriculturists with loans at 6 per cent. Under the 
Turkish regime there had been an Agricultural Bank making such loans, but its 
funds had been carried off by the retiring Turks. The Administration now 
determined to replace this and made an arrangement for the purpose with the 
Anglo-Egyptian Bank. Proper care was taken that any loans already made by 
Jewish hanks or by similar bodies should be safeguarded. A Jewish bank, the 
Anglo-Palestine, was issuing loans to agriculturists at the time, but its charges 
were twice those of the official fund. Obviously, therefore, the official fund, as 
far as loans to Arabs at least were concerned, would be preferred by everyone 
to the Jewish Bank. Because of this the Zionist Commission protested against 
the creation of the fund, and the protest was made not merely in Palestine but 
also in Whitehall. From London orders actually were sent to suspend the fund. 
This despite the representations of the Chief Administrator, who had pointed 
out that “the Zionists cannot fairly ask that the Fellaheen should be left helpless 
and a prey to usurers, who would be their only resource had not the 
Administration come very rightly to their aid.” Words of significance, when it 
is recalled how often Zionist writers have tried to make capital out of Arab 

When Dr. Weizmann went back to Palestine he perceived the 
unreasonableness, to say no more, of the Commission’s demand, and through 
his influence resumption of the Administration’s loans was allowed in the end. 
The whole affair was debated in the House of Lords eventually, when Lord 
Sydenham, that great champion of justice for the Arabs, received a remarkable 
reply from Lord Crawford on behalf of the Government. It ran, “This question 
is the key to the future and especially to the Zionist future of the country, and 
the Zionist Organization maintains that it should not have been settled without 
previous consultation with them.” That is to say, the Government tacitly 
accepted that the Palestine Government (as Lord Sydenham said) “had no right 
to act without consulting a self-constituted body, largely composed of aliens,” 
and the Cabinet spokesman pleaded the dictum of the Zionist Organization as 
though it came from a body entitled to lay down procedure for the British 

Army. As far as practical usage was concerned, Lord Crawford was not so far 
from the truth after all. 

Another source of friction in Palestine was the insistence of the Commission 
upon the installation of Hebrew as an official language, to a level with which 
Arabic, the common tongue of the country, was to be reduced. Most of the Jews 
then in the country spoke Yiddish, and objected to the vulgarization of Hebrew. 
The revival of Hebrew was quite artificial. Furthermore, its adoption as an 
official language by the military Government of Occupied Enemy Territory was 
illegal under the Hague Convention, by Article 45 of which the occupying army 
was not permitted to make changes in the existing forms of administration. 
(The whole question of this disregard of the Hague Convention will be fully 
treated in a later chapter.) 

The unlawful use of Hebrew as an official language, which no action of the 
superior military authorities nor of the British Government itself could rectify, 
was frequently resisted by individual officers. But whenever they tried to 
confine official forms to the Arabic and English tongues — the two 
permissible — the Zionist Commission intervened and succeeded in having 
Hebrew reimposed. 

The Jaffa Municipality had passed a by-law making Arabic compulsory 
upon all signboards. In an Arabic-speaking country it was a necessary 
regulation, and the British Military Governor of Jaffa counter-signed it. But one 
of the earliest actions of the Zionist Commission was to obtain the cancellation 
of this by-law. “The Zionist Commission intervened and the by-law was 
quashed.” (Z.O.R.) 1 ask the reader to transpose this act to England, as may so 
often be done to advantage, and to imagine a by-law of a corporation or urban 
district council ordering the use of English upon signposts being quashed by the 
intervention of a committee of strangers who had never been in England till a 
year or two before. 

On a later occasion the then Chief Administrator himself, Major-General 
Money, was subjected to Zionist complaint because he had ordered that tax- 
forms and receipts were to be printed in English and in Arabic, despite these 
being the languages which he was bound to employ. 

Yet another source of discord for long was the payments which the Zionist 
Commission made to Zionist clerks and others who entered Government 
service. Government salaries, calculated on the scale obtaining in the country, 
were not sufficient for Europeanized Jews. But by paying subsidies to those of 
them who were willing to serve, a certain number were maintained in the 
Administration, and into the bargain were a perpetual source of leakage of 
official information. The abuse of this was so great that in the end the subsidies 
were stopped, but too late to arrest the evil of leakage. 

All these things increased tension between the Commission and the 
Palestine authorities. But what caused more than tension, what brought Army 
and Commission into open hostility was the manner in which Zionist influence 

Palestine: The Reality 


in the high places of England was brought to bear against officers who offended 
the Commission or the political Zionist caucus in Palestine. When this occurred 
the average soldier doing his best by the standards of the Service stood no 
chance against his accusers in London. He had to recant or to resign. 

In London [runs the official Zionist account of these very dissensions] 
the political atmosphere was very different [from that in Palestine]. The 
position of Zionism in all influential circles and the personal authority of 
Zionist leaders [my italics] was very strong. It seemed psychologically 
impossible to reconcile the melancholy reports from Palestine with the 
cloudless benevolence pervading every Government office in London. 

Cloudless benevolence! — the words are amply descriptive. In London mere 
Zionist appeals had ceased. The leaders walked in upon Cabinet Ministers and 
stated their needs, which thereon were fulfilled. 

There is no least exaggeration in this statement. The occurrences which 
followed the visit of Mr. Brandeis to Palestine may be given in evidence. In the 
summer of 1919 Mr. Brandeis sailed for Europe, his main object being to 
proceed to Palestine. He was accompanied by Mr. de Haas, whose account 
therefore of ensuing events is first-hand. It is to be found in three of his books 
but more fully in his autobiography of Brandeis. In London they met Dr. 
Weizmann, and from there went on to Paris which they reached on the 28th of 
June, the day that the Versailles Treaty was signed. 

Mr. Brandeis and his companion “ignored the hilarity in the streets” and 
spent a couple of crowded days calling on President Wilson, on Colonel House, 
on the Italian Ambassador, on Lord Balfcur, on Baron Edmond de Rothschild 
and, it seems, upon the entire French Cabinet. Balfour, of course, “gave the 
Justice every assurance of his seeing eye to eye with the Zionists.” 

Every prospect pleased indeed till, a few days later, the travellers reached 
Egypt, when the horizon assumed the traditional Egyptian darkness. 

The visitors found General Allenby indifferent to Loreign Office 
policies, whether they concerned Arab interests or promises to the Jews. 
The repercussions of the Crane-King Commission were met in Palestine. 
The population was naturally restive and all sorts of interpretations were 
evolved from the American investigation. Jewish complaints of British 
hostility were almost overwhelming. 

Brandeis had set out to make a leisured inspection of Palestine, but 
his brief conferences in Paris led him to decide that it was advisable to 
change his Palestinian tour into a political visit. The ascendancy of the 
military party in British Near Eastern policies was a fact, and one that 
needed to be handled firmly, and it was in that spirit that Brandeis left 
Egypt and crossed the Sinai peninsula. 

The British Commander-in-Chief and his military and civil aides 
regarded the Balfour Declaration as a forgotten episode of the War. The 
Palestine: The Reality 

civilian aides [Mr. de Haas means by this the staff-officers engaged in 
civil administration] took advantage of every economic opportunity to 
strengthen the British foothold, ignoring all Jewish considerations, and 
treating the Arabs as “natives” in the approved colonial manner. The 
Jews, ignorant of this divided policy [the divergence between the 
aversion of the British Army and the cloudless benevolence of the British 
Government] brought eloquent testimony that Palestine was already 
slipping away from the vision of a Jewish homeland they had conjured 
out of the text of the Balfour Declaration. 

As soon as Mr. Brandeis had grasped this situation, he started to handle the 
British Army as firmly as could have been wished by Mr. de Haas or by 
anyone. He went straight to Headquarters on the Mount of Olives, and, 
according to his chronicler, “expressed some definite opinions on the matter to 
General Money.” Mr. de Haas does not tell the events of the visit, but what 
happened was that Mr. Brandeis told the Chief Administrator that, “ordinances 
of the military authorities should be submitted first to the Zionist Commission.” 
General Money was taken aback, naturally, at such a mode of address: his 
A.D.C., who was present, said with some warmth to the visitor, “For a 
Government to do that would be to derogate its position.” “As a lawyer you 
realize this,” he added. 

Brandeis was not abashed at all, and continued, “It must be understood that 
the British Government is committed to the support of the Zionist cause.” 
“Unless this is accepted as a guiding principle, I shall have to report it to the 
Foreign Office ,” he concluded, in words deserving of the italics I have given 
them. Dining later on with one of the principal officers of the Administration, 
this singular Justice repeated much the same admonitions, but towards the close 
of the dinner turned to cajolery. He pointed out the opportunities awaiting a 
man of ability and of ambition in Palestine who appreciated the merits of the 
National Home. “If you’ll give us a word of adherence,” he declared, raising his 
glass, “I drink to the future Governor of Palestine. What 1 say to Wilson goes.” 
An offer, without doubt, not couched in the language of the Bench and not 
intended for publication, but eminently deserving of it. By and large, indeed, 
the recent history of Palestine resolves itself into the publication of deeds and 
of sayings which their authors never meant to make known. Mr. Brandeis ’s 
offers and his threats in this case were treated with equal coldness and contempt 
by his soldier hosts. So he carried out the threats and as soon as possible 
“reported to the Foreign Office.” “He unbosomed himself,” explains Mr. de 
Haas. Knowing where to obtain instant compliance with his desires, Mr. 
Brandeis did not delay to reach London for the unbosoming. “It was to Mr. 
Balfour that he spoke,” in Paris. 

The talk was instantly fruitful. 


A few hours later the British Foreign Office through the British War 
Office was reminding the military authorities in Egypt and Palestine not 
only of the verbal contents of the Balfour Declaration, but also that it was 
chose jugee. A number of Palestinian officials immediately sought 
desirable exchanges, and Colonel Meinertzhagen, a pronounced pro- 
Zionist, was dispatched to Palestine. [There is no suggestion that Colonel 
Meinertzhagen, who had taken a distinguished part in Allenby’s 
campaign, had any knowledge of Mr. Brandeis’s intrigues. He proceeded 
on orders to Lord Allenby’s headquarters and was attached to his staff.] 
There had been no stirring of the troubled waters, no protest-meetings. 
The Brandeisian direct-action diplomacy had achieved results. The result 
was so clear to Palestinians that the silent but efficient Brandeis is still a 
golden memory, [de Haas.] 

The date upon which this insolent intruder visited his convenient Balfour 
seems to have been the 4th of August. On that day, at least Balfour sent 
“detailed instruction for the Palestinian authorities.” Its main points were: that 
the American and French Governments were equally pledged to support the 
establishment in Palestine of the Jewish National Home; that this should be 
emphasized to the Arab leaders at every opportunity; that the matter was a 
chose jugee, and that continued agitation would be useless and detrimental. It 
would be unfair,” continues the Zionist Organization statement from which 1 
quote this corroboration, 

to say that this Instruction [the capital letter is used ] bore no fruit at all. 
Certain changes in the Administration’s attitude became at once notable, 
Partly due to Mr. Balfour’s Instruction, partly perhaps, to Major-General 
Money’s departure. During the short period of Major-General Watson’s 
Administration some improvements were introduced. We have already 
mentioned that concessions were made as regards the use of the Hebrew 
language in official documents and publications. The number of Jewish 
clerks and policemen was also increased. Unfortunately, no change could 
be detected in the essential attitude of the British personnel, although 
Major-General Watson himself seemed to be quite unprejudiced. 

The Zionist Report here quoted tries to steal from Mr. Brandeis a little of the 
kudos for the “Balfour Instruction” and for its sequels, and it attributes 
Balfour’s action to “the energetic representations made by the Zionist Office in 
London to the British Government. 44 On another page it declares that 

Mr. Louis Brandeis’s visit to Palestine in July 1919 was of great 
assistance. Short though his stay was, it enabled him to get an unbiassed 
view of the situation and to report on it after his return to England. Soon 
afterwards Major-General Money was replaced, as Chief Administrator, 
by Major-General Watson, and some of the crudest infringements of the 

principle of equality — especially with regard to the position of the 
Hebrew language — were removed. 

But Mr. de Hans, accompanying Brandeis, was better placed than anyone to 
know exactly what happened. The sequence of events evidently was that after 
Balfour had complied promptly with Brandeis’s requirements, the latter went 
on to London and there in conjunction with the Zionist office continued his 
short but effective cutting-out campaign. In fact Mr. de Hans partly confirms 
this, saying of his chief that he “proceeded to London, elated that his visit to 
Palestine had produced such excellent results.” 

One way and another, between the pressure brought by the Organization 
chiefs in London and by Brandeis of the golden memory, British officers who 
did not, like Balfour, see eye to eye with the Zionists, began to lose their posts. 
They were either forced into resignation or removed. “One of the chief 
saboteurs of the Balfour Declaration was removed through his (Mr. Brandeis’s) 
influence,” writes Mr. Kallen, a cautious commentator. Our faithful Zionist 
Organization Report, too, has something to say of the last days of Major- 
General Money’s rule. He had made a speech condemning the policy of 
creating “separate institutions for different communities,” whether charitable or 

Shortly afterwards a circular letter was sent from Headquarters to all 
Military Governors asking their opinion as to the advisability of creating 
mixed Government schools, for Arabs and Jews alike. The Zionist 
Commission, it goes without saying, energetically resisted all these 
attempts, and it is possible that its endeavours, as well as representations 
made by the London Office to the Home Government had something to 
do with Major-General Money’s recall from the post of Chief 

As it happens, General Money already, and for the second time, had 
tendered privately to Lord Allenby his resignation from his thankless post. But 
if he had not decided to retire it is evident enough that he would have had to 
retire. He is not to be confounded with the “chief saboteur of the Balfour 
Declaration” just mentioned. This was Colonel Vivian Gabriel (now Sir Vivian 
Gabriel). Colonel Gabriel was Assistant Administrator of O.E.T.A. South. 
Before the War he had held several highly responsible positions in the Indian 
Civil Service. In 1914 he had been attached to the Headquarters Staff in Egypt. 
He then became a member of the British Military Mission to the Headquarters 
Staff of the Italian Army. At the time he was Financial Adviser to the Palestine 
Administration. He does not appear to have pleased the Zionists for a number 
of reasons. Among them, “he busied himself in promoting British commercial 
interests. His circulars betrayed in culpable language the belief that Palestine 
was part of the British Empire.” (Wise-de Haas.) 

Palestine: The Reality 


Lord Sydenham, when the opportunity occurred, some months later during a 
Lords debate, directly accused the Government of taking action against British 
officials, under Zionist influence. “The military Administrator at the time,” said 
he, “found that his position had become impossible, and then a most capable 
Indian Civil Servant, appointed by the War Office as Financial Adviser, and 
specially commended for good work, was suddenly dismissed. ... He was 
condemned unheard, because it was stated that he had adopted “an attitude 
inconsistent with the Zionist policy of the Government.” Lord Curzon, who 
closed the Debate for the Government, had not a word to say in reply. 


The Emir Feisal proclaimed King of Syria — He asks for recognition of Syrian 
independence by the Allies and cites the McMahon-Hussein pact — Fall of the 
Kingdom of Syria — Arabs and Jews clash in Palestine — The Chief 
Administrator of Palestine tells Mr. Lloyd George some truths about the 

The year 1920 opened politically with the return of Feisal to Syria. He 
reached Beyrout from France on the 15th of January, bringing with him nothing 
but the memory of indecisive interviews in England and of disquieting 
admonitions in France. Nearly seven months had passed since the treaty- 
signatures had been written in Versailles, and yet not an inch of tangible 
progress seemed to have been made towards the start of the other peace, that 
with Turkey, upon which the whole status of Syria must depend. 

Protracted secret negotiations with the Zionists concerning the form of the 
Palestine Mandate were one of the causes of this great delay. A principal cause 
was naturally the change of regime in Turkey itself and the stiffening of attitude 
when Mustapha Kemal and his companions came to the front and took charge. 
Far from ending in the East, the War had broken out again between the French 
and Kurdish-Turkish bands, mixed regulars and irregulars. When the British 
Loops were withdrawn in the north, in accordance with the Lloyd George - 
Clemenceau Convention, there were insufficient French troops available to take 
their place. The Turks seized the opportunity to cross the line drawn at the 
Armistice and to recapture as much as they could of their old territory. To 
oppose them at the beginning the French had little else but a corps of Armenian 

Little French garrisons were besieged here and there by overwhelming 
forces. In one such affray a general and two reduced battalions were thus 
isolated for a fortnight. An outnumbered French force was obliged to evacuate 
Antioch, and sporadic warfare between small French units and enemies, of all 
degrees of discipline, including Arab irregulars, went on from Cilicia to the 
borders of Palestine. 

Brigandage was general throughout the distracted country. Feisal’s 
government in Damascus could not cope with the situation. Its indefinite status, 
its inability to extract any declaration firmly establishing it from the Powers, its 
terrible lack of money, Feisal’s own long and profitless absences — all this 
bereft his government of power and of the means to exert it. In addition there 
was the quarrel with the French, whose own situation was complicated by their 
fighting the Turks as well as sparring with the Arabs. 

Various nomadic tribesmen, over whom Feisal at the head of a putative 
State could exert no real control, engaged freely in looting and forays against 
outlying posts. The Arab Government had perhaps eight thousand regulars in 
and around Damascus, a nucleus which it was most undesirable to disperse. As 
it was, those Arab detachments which had established themselves in some 
coastal centres had been ordered to evacuate these by Lord Allenby, who had 
no choice in the matter, as he was given orders to execute the Lloyd George- 
Clemenceau Convention, which excluded Arab regulars from the nominal 
French zone. In this way Antioch was emptied of Arab troops, who only 
departed, as from Beyrout also, after the Commander-in-Chief had given 
peremptory commands and threatened to use force if they did not obey. 

That the few French who replaced the Arab troops had to retire presently 
and that large numbers of the Arab population of Antioch were driven to flight 
before the advancing Kurds shows something of the anarchy which the political 
situation induced in Syria during the late winter and spring of 1919-20. To 
these conditions Feisal returned in January, to find himself out of touch with the 
crisis and with the feelings it had engendered in the country. His task, to try and 
bring about some order, was all the more difficult because he had become an 
object of considerable suspicion. He was paying now for the Frankfurter letter 
and his conversations with Dr. Weizmann. There was deep distrust of the webs 
which had been spun round him in London and Paris. His role as the spiders’ 
protege was not one which his fellow-Arabs found very convincing, despite 
Feisal’s endeavours to persuade them that some day, in some way, the promises 
made to them would be carried out and that their natural rights would be 

Deputations came continually to him, tribal leaders, sheikhs from country 
districts with their villagers behind them, and adjured him in fervent tones not 
to forget his country’s cause. He was urged to take a strong line with the Allies, 
on the ground that this was all the Allies understood. Turkish agents caballed 
against him with some of the young hotheads who were tired of delays, and a 
coup d’etat actually was planned against his rule. But the Arab prince to whom 
Feisal’s place was offered very patriotically and honourably refused to have any 
part in the business and the plot came to nothing. 

Feisal himself made one more endeavour to obtain from the chiefs of the 
adjourned Peace Conference a message with which to placate his people. The 
result was a cabled intimation that the Allies “had not forgotten Syria,” and of 

Palestine: The Reality 


all things, yet another demand that he should quit the country and come to 
London to plead his cause all over again. (On the 2nd of February the first 
meeting of the Supreme Allied Council had been held in London.) He might as 
well have resigned his position as leave Syria then. 

On the top of this invitation to London came a minatory communication 
from his father. King Hussein telegraphed, “1 repudiate any action 
compromising the independence of Syria which you may take.” The members 
of the Syrian Congress now pressed for a definite declaration of this 
independence, and though Feisal would have preferred to have negotiated a 
little longer, and though he tried to obtain his father’s consent to at least a 
postponement while he informed the Allies that he must make such a 
declaration, he did not shake Hussein nor alter the opinions of the Congress 

Accordingly, he agreed to the proclamation. Perhaps, after all, he thought, it 
might be best to place the Allies before an accomplished fact. Statesmen often 
conformed to conditions which they had refused to install. He summoned the 
prorogued Congress for the 6th of March, and the Congress decided on the 
proclamation of independence for the 8th. The proclamation duly took place, 
and on the following day the new State of Syria was declared to be a kingdom. 
Feisal accepted the throne and was proclaimed King of Syria, Palestine and the 
Lebanon. The independence of Mesopotamia, or Irak, had also been announced 
and its throne had been offered to Feisal’s brother, the Emir Abdullah. 

Feisal’s proclamation as king was ceremonious. It took place in the town 
hall of Damascus, to which the Emir rode in the midst of a great escort of 
cavalry through the thronged and cheering streets. His throne was an 
ornamental chair inlaid with mother-of-pearl. 

The erection of the Kingdom of Syria and the proclamation of Arab 
independence was notified to all the Allied and to the other principal countries. 
Notifications were sent also to Lord Aflenby and to General Gouraud. What 
Allenby’s answer was is not known, but Gouraud dispatched a very courteous 
telegram in which, while emphasizing that as High Commissioner of the French 
Republic he could not in any way recognize the action which had occurred, he 
tendered to the new king his personal congratulations. 

In his notifications to the French and British Governments Feisal had 
demanded formally the withdrawal of all British and French troops from Arab 
soil, that is to say, the evacuation of northern Syria by the French and of 
Palestine and of Mesopotamia by the British. In addition to these 
announcements and demands, he also sent a letter to President Wilson recalling 
the visit of the Crane-King Commission, and appealing for his help in attaining 
the unity and independence of Syria, instead of its being parcelled into zones 
under control of the Allied Powers. Personal letters were sent by him in 
addition to the Allied Premiers, explaining the reasons which had led him to the 

step he had taken, and how far certain points of the proclamation might be 
regarded as formal. 

With this state of things 1 was to come into close contact. I had been in 
Egypt following the proceedings of the Milner Commission, which was to 
report on Anglo-Egyptian relations. Early in March the gravity of the state of 
Syria and the fear that the fighting in the north might spread to Palestine, 
brought me to leave Egypt and to land at Haifa. Scarcely had 1 arrived when it 
appeared as though the extension of disorder into Palestine was at hand. 
Bedouin raiders came pouring out of the gorges of the Yarmook valley, crossed 
the Jordan and attacked the post of Semakh, on the lip of the Sea of Galilee. It 
was the frontier-post of the British zone, occupied by Indian cavalry. The 
Bedouin were driven off with losses, but continued to make raids afterwards. 
These raids were on a lesser scale, but much damage was done in remoter 
villages and to a couple of Jewish farms, while cattle were stolen in some 
numbers. The Bedouin also attacked the Damascus-Haifa train, of which the 
route ran down this same Yarmook valley. Steaming at full speed the train 
regained Deraa, and communications with Damascus, poor and intermittent at 
the best, were broken. 

Feisal’s Government, however, sent a few hundred troops to the district and 
when the next Arab train mounted the valley 1 took the opportunity and boarded 
it at Semakh. 1 remember well that day, the portal of experiences which have 
influenced me ever since; how between the gorges of the Yarmook the low, 
black tents of the Bedouin showed at intervals, lying close as strawberry-nets to 
the mountain slopes; how we came out on the great tableland of the Hauran, 
and skirted the Lejja, a gloomy fastness which looked the seat of all outlawry. It 
closed the plain like a wall, an ashen wilderness of lava, broken only at one 
point by a pair of domes and what seemed a couple of ruined leaning towers, 
but all forbidding and pitchy, like a small Italian town dead and gone black. 

But no outlaws or raiders attacked us, and in the valley the Bedouin only 
congregated excitedly and made much delay at stopping-points. 

At the end of the day the unlit train crept into Damascus. The city itself was 
dark under the stars, and seemed impenetrable. The ensuing week opened it to 
me. Political life there had resemblances to political life in Poland or in Greece: 
minor political clubs and party-cenacles abounded, prone to acute differences 
upon unessentials. But upon essentials, upon the main point of Syrian 
independence all were agreed. One party-centre transcended every other one in 
importance, the “Arab Club,” which was inconspicuously housed near the 
railway station. The Arab Club was the focus and the spring of opinion, by 
which the Congress was animated and, through the Congress, the Cabinet of the 
new Government and Feisal himself. The Cabinet had been carefully chosen 
amidst men with experience of affairs. Of the eight ministers half were 
Moslem, half Christian. 

Palestine: The Reality 


The more I met Congressmen and Arab Club members the more evident it 
was that they had not altered their general attitude and their real hopes since 
Messrs. Crane and King had interviewed them nine months before. Their 
tempers had been tried by the Allies’ delays and they felt very insecure of the 
Allies’ plans, but they knew at heart that Syria needed our help. Its very 
conditions at the moment made this plain to them. But they asked that our help 
to them should be reasonably disinterested, that their country should not be 
dismembered, and that their fundamental proprietorship of it should be 

This was very much what Feisal himself said to me, when I saw him a few 
days after my arrival. He was living then outside the city, in a simple grey- 
painted house on the hillside, above the famed almond-orchards. It was the first 
opportunity he had had as King to speak to the British and European public, 
and my interview was endowed with some formality. 

“Our action was quite justified,” he said to me. “Long ago the Allies 
promised us an independent Arab State where we have proclaimed it. But what 
immediately forced Congress to take the step of proclamation was the never- 
ending delay of the Peace Conference in coming to a decision concerning us. 
The Arab people have waited a very long time, and during this delay all kinds 
of contradictory reports have been spread about the fate which will be doled out 
to them. Men have lost their confidence: they are convinced that the Allies 
mean to leave Syria divided into three parts as it is now, and that the promised 
union of the Arab people in an Arab kingdom or confederation is a myth. The 
result is that the most dangerous public opinion has been formed in the country 
and will not hear of further postponements.” 

“Couldn’t you have been patient just a little longer,” 1 said to him, “the 
conclusion of the Turkish Treaty cannot be so very far off, and the status of 
Syria must be defined in it. Couldn’t you have waited that short while?” 

“7 could have waited,” said Feisal, “1 would have waited myself, for 1 am 
sure of the Allies’ good intentions, but the public opinion of this country cannot 
be reined in any longer for a period of unfixed length. Violent propaganda has 
been at work here against the Allies. Its source is in Anatolia, and the story has 
been spread abroad that the treaty negotiations are being delayed deliberately 
by your statesmen, and that we shall have to wait as we are another couple of 
years for a decision. 1 could not dare ask the people to go on waiting any 
longer, with feeling as high as it is.” 

“The British and the other Allied governments were warned from here, 
warned repeatedly, that the growth of popular feeling was reaching an 
irresistible stage. I have been given kindly assurances in return, but I don’t 
think that the gravity of my position has been realized. No doubt,” and he shook 
his head, “no doubt they have great preoccupations, but they don’t realize 

“Weren’t you asked,” I said, “to appear in London and to lay your people’s 
demands before the Allied meeting there?” 

“Yes,” he said, “and in principle I shall be glad to go to London or 
elsewhere, as soon as 1 con go. But as to the Arab demand, that demand is for 
one thing, which is the recognition of the independence of an integral Syria, 
instead of its division into three zones. Those who demand it most are the 
classes whom I have trained, as far as 1 have had the opportunity, to lead the 
country, to command the army, to engage in public administration, to one form 
or another of superior service. 1 have no clue to the decisions the Conference 
which is to make the peace with Turkey will take regarding my country. If I 
were to return from a Conference to tell these men, these leaders of the people, 
that the principle of an undivided Syria had not been granted but that to-day’s 
zones of influence were to continue, I tell you I cannot foresee the condition 
into which the country might not fall nor foresee what would be the position of 
my own person.” 

He paused, and spoke with slow phrases, as though the words weighed on 
him, “I have made them — many promises — on behalf — of the Allies.” Then, 
recovering himself, and smiling at the prospect, “If only the Allies would 
recognize the fundamental independence of Syria and of Mesopotamia, then I 
should be delighted” (ravi was his word; we talked in French) “to go to 
England and to discuss the practical side of it. When we get into negotiations I 
have every intention of safeguarding British interests here and in Mesopotamia. 
Our desires and the interests of Great Britain could be secured without hurting 
the principle of independence.” 

“But your proclamation demanded the withdrawal of our troops,” I objected. 
“Do you expect that to be carried out?” 

“We could not accept continual occupation,” he answered, “but there will be 
plenty of time to see the date at which your troops might have to retire. It is 
difficult to put these matters into a few words, but believe me I don’t think that 
we and you are so far from agreement or can fail to find agreement, because we 
remember what England did for us during the War, and surely England will 
remember what we did for her. Did not Sir Henry McMahon, too, in his pact 
with my father the King of the Hedjaz promise us what we now ask, an Arab 
state within the boundaries we claim? The reservations made for Basra and 
Baghdad we shall observe.” 

I asked him for some information upon the McMahon pact and then inquired 
what would be his attitude towards a Mandate. Feisal smiled, and spread his 
hands, as much as to indicate that a Mandate was a wide term. He said, “I’ve 
not yet arrived at a clear understanding of what a Mandate means. It may mean 
nothing but friendly support and relations: it may mean colonization. It is too 
elastic a phrase. Everything depends upon how the ‘Mandate’ would be 

Palestine: The Reality 


I spoke of the difficulty of treating the Syrian question as a whole at present 
owing to the divided occupation of the country between British and French. “1 
think 1 might come to an agreement with the French too,” said Feisal. “When 1 
was in Paris M. Clemenceau told me French troops did not intend to stay in 
Syria, when I put the question to him. Unfortunately we reached no official 
conclusion, though a basis of agreement had been laid. Once our independence 
were acknowledged some arrangement for the installation of French counsellors 
holding their authority from the Arab Government might be reached more 

“What of the pro-Turkish movement here?” 1 asked. 

“There is no love of the Turks in Syria,” he answered. “But if Turkish rule 
over us was bad, the Arabs at least were a united element under the Ottoman 
regime. That in the main is what people are saying to-day. If, however, they are 
being pushed into the hands of the Turks you must find it excusable. There is a 
proverb of ours which says that when a man is drowning he will cling to a 
serpent to save himself. But don’t let us talk of the Turks. The British and the 
Arabs have been allies from the beginning of the war here, and Britain is our 
chief ally since she laid the basis of our State. Even if she had no interests in 
Syria I should be happy to call on her to restore our material prosperity and to 
act as our friend and guide and adviser.” 

Then I turned to the Lebanon. What was his government’s attitude towards 
this special enclave of Syria? He thought that provided the Lebanon did not 
place itself under foreign occupation it might have entire independence within 
the Syrian orbit. 

I came to the Zionist question last. He said, “I arrived at an understanding 
satisfactory to us both with Dr. Weizmann, and I am ready to carry it out,” with 
emphasis on the I. He referred to the “Treaty of Friendship,” which had been 
drawn up a year before (discussed in Chapter XIV). 

That is the general burden of my interview with Feisal, of which I have kept 
my notes and draft. 1 regret sorely now, of course, that I did not pursue the 
Zionist business further with him, but I had come newly to it, and at the time in 
Damascus it was overshadowed altogether by the perils of Franco-Arab 
conflict, which indeed was but a few months distant. With the rest of the 
country in chaos the conditions of the relatively quiet British zone were not 
clamant for attention. 

As it happened too, just when Feisal had spoken to me of his agreement with 
Dr. Weizmann, his swarthy young half-brother the Emir Zeid, had broken into 
the room, listened a moment, and then, after presentations, had plunged into 
rapid conversation with the King. The subject was a Druse foray, requiring their 
full attention, and this had brought the interview to an end. 

But if I had known then all that I know now, I should have arranged for 
another meeting with Feisal, with Zionism and the National Home as its 
subject. None the less, what Feisal said to me in that March of 1920 is of as 

much consequence now as when he spoke, more than anything else because he 
recognized, in what he said, the strict limitations of his own authority. It 
clarifies too his personal attitude, though that is of lesser importance. It 
disposes absolutely of any idea that he accepted the permanent division of Syria 
into zones, or that he stood for anything less than the independence of the 
whole area of Syrian soil. 

It confirms that King Hussein did intend to include Palestine in the territory 
for which he stipulated Arab independence. That is, of course, manifest in itself 
in the text of the pact made to that end. But if confirmation were needed Feisal 
gave it. He knew his father’s mind when he spoke to me in Damascus, and he 
quoted his father’s pact as a surety for his own kingdom, and for his own title. 
That title specified that he was “King of Palestine,” lest there should be any 
doubt concerning this point through the misuse by the Western Powers of the 
word “Syria” for the northern part of the country only. Hussein, too, had just 
threatened to repudiate him if he did not proclaim Syrian independence exactly 
in the terms which in fact were employed at the proclamation. 

A point of great additional interest is that — as far as I have been able to 
discover — when Feisal cited the McMahon-Hussein pact to me, this was the 
first time the Arab claims under it had been put forward in the Press. In his 
address to the Peace Conference a year before I do not think that Feisal 
mentioned the pact by name. All Feisal did at the Conference was to make a 
general claim without introducing the geographical guarantees of the pact. In 
any event this Peace Conference speech of his was, as we have seen, scarcely 
quoted. It might almost as well have been delivered in camera. 

The reason Feisal had in bringing the pact by name now into the open in our 
interview was easily discerned. He was getting doubtful about our memory and 
our faithfulness. Whatever he said to me of his confidence in Britain’s memory, 
he felt that it was time that there should be a public record of what had 
occurred. He was beginning to doubt whether the pact would be remembered in 
London, if it remained for the British public an unidentified and unannounced 

Unfortunately, his purpose in speaking to me of it was in great degree 
frustrated by myself. I did not emphasize the point at all, or explain how we 
were committed under the pact, simply because at the time I had never heard of 
it, and believed that it was a current document which had been duly published 
in the previous year. During the Versailles peace-making I had been in distant 
countries and indeed had been cut off for long from all knowledge of what was 
passing in the West. I had been in Egypt in the early part of 1915, but had left 
there before the negotiations with King Hussein had begun. 

When King Feisal told me of the pact, I confessed my ignorance of it to him, 
and asked him for some account of it “ pour ma gouveme ,” a phrase always 
used in interviews of this type when the interviewer himself needs something 
explained to him, not that he may reproduce it but that he may be able to 

Palestine: The Reality 


conduct his interview. This he gave me, but never explained that the pact was 
unpublished. 1 was content to make mere reference to it, therefore, assuming 
that when my cable reached London the sub-editors would insert the details of 
its text. The correspondent of a newspaper does not waste money upon 
telegraphing texts of documents which are available in his home-office, as 1 
wrongly imagined this to be available. 

When 1 returned to England other matters intruded: Feisal’s kingdom had 
been swept away. The interview went quite out of my mind, and it was not till I 
started going through old papers methodically for the purposes of the present 
book that 1 realized the interest of Feisal’s revelation of the McMahon pact to 
me in March of 1920. It might, if I had but realized the situation, have been 
made known in its essential details during the period of the Turkish Treaty 
negotiations at Sevres and San Remo and have been brought to the notice of the 
League of Nations in good time. My short reference to it had failed to awake 
attention in our London office, in the throes of nearer and resounding crises 
upon the Continent, though it was noted in Parliament. 

A further corollary from FeisaTs declarations to me deserves mention. From 
them it is shown again that his understanding with Dr. Weizmann (dependent as 
it was upon conditions which Dr. Weizmana himself was working to prevent) 
was nothing but a subsidiary arrangement for establishing a Jewish settlement 
owing allegiance to the Arab Government. There could be no Jewish rule in a 
country of which Feisal had been proclaimed the monarch, from which he had 
demanded the evacuation of the occupying British troops, albeit he was ready 
to give them “plenty of time in which to retire.” 

When, therefore, to cite a major example of misrepresentation, it is stated in 
the Peel Report (on page 27) that “if King Hussein and the Emir Feisal secured 
their big Arab State, they would concede little Palestine to the Jews,” the 
implication that either father or son was willing for Palestine to become a Jew- 
ruled country is unwarrantable. The version of FeisaTs situation, as given in the 
Report, also requires to be emended. 

In the paragraph from which the above quotation is taken the Report goes on 
to state that the Emir Feisal, in concluding his agreement with Dr. Weizmann, 
“was not, it is true, directly representing the Arabs of Palestine: but the Arabs 
regarded Syria as one country, and in Syria the Emir’s leadership had been 
accepted.” The argument is that, therefore, the Arabs of Palestine were 
co-responsible for their leader’s acts, and that so they too, tacitly or 
automatically, “conceded little Palestine to the Jews.” 

Whereas the situation was nothing like this. The Emir’s undefined 
“leadership” was given as soon as possible a concrete form, concerted between 
him, his father and his fellow-countrymen. He became a constitutional 
sovereign, accepting his throne from the people, as represented in Congress, 
which drew up an Act of Succession. As his words and his deeds in Damascus 
testified, he recognized himself as only the agent of the Arab people in Syria, 

and as one who, when presenting projects to Congress, might or might not find 
those projects endorsed. This was his second phase. During his first phase he 
had been his father’s representative, and even then his father emphasized that 
he himself only acted as a spokesman of the Arabs. In his own Hedjaz Hussein 
still ruled personally; beyond it he also was a mere representative. Feisal at no 
time was ever anything but a middleman in matter of authority. While he was 
“leader” he had represented and had been answerable to his father: when he 
became king by his oath he was made answerable to the National Assembly. 

As he avowed to me, the touchstone of the whole future set of decisions of 
the Allies for Syria was not the reception which he might give to these 
decisions, but the reception they would get from Congress when, as a returning 
envoy, he laid them before that body. What was true for the Allies’ decisions 
was true in the lesser field of negotiation with Dr. Weizmann. If FeisaTs 
position as “leader in Syria” had endured, and if the conditions had entered into 
being under which the “Treaty of Friendship” became feasible, it never would 
have been anything more than feasible merely. It would not have become, as 
the Peel Report seems to imagine, immediately operative. It would have had to 
take its chance before Congress with other proposals awaiting ratification. Far 
from being the source of a more “peaceful development of the situation in 
Palestine” than has ensued, its chances of survival would have been nil, if its 
indefinite phrases had been focussed into any escape of the Jewish citizens of 
Palestine from national suzerainty. 

Feisal himself was well aware of the fact by now: his statement to me was 
that he was ready to carry out the Weizmann agreement. He was always 
courteous in public, and since he had negotiated with the Zionist leader to 
satisfy the British Government, he did not decry his own negotiations. That was 

Poor Feisal! In this affair the political Zionists and their British friends have 
made him the fastest galloper and the greatest ground-coverer of all stalking- 
horses, and of all men of straw his effigy has been carried further by them and 
has been placed in more poses. He resented deeply the part assigned to him and 
chafed at the public silence which, as King of Irak, he had to observe 
concerning Palestine and the rest of Syria. But we have seen his response to the 
Frankfurter letter. On the occasion of his final visit to Jerusalem he said to 
some of the Arab leaders, “What can I do for you? My heart bleeds for you.” 
The kingdom over which he had reigned so briefly was indeed always close to 
his heart, and he gave it almost his last thoughts. He had been in London, and 
travelling south had stopped in Berne to rest. He did not rest much there, 
though, for he wrote a long memorandum in his own hand upon the situation 
throughout Syria. Next day Rustum Haidar Pasha and Noun Said Pasha, who 
were with him, perceived how ill he seemed, and begged him not to worry 
about any political affairs for the present. But he paid no attention and would 
not be satisfied till they had promised him that they would return in his name to 

Palestine: The Reality 


Paris and London to take up again the questions of Palestine and the Franco- 
Syrian area. To soothe him they pretended that they would leave next day. By 
then he was dead. 

That troubled sojourn of his in Damascus, which must have recurred so 
forcibly to him in those final hours at Berne, was brief enough. His kingdom of 
Syria lasted only four months. In May his Government rejected the Mandate 
over north Syria which France had assumed in April, declaring that it was 
unacceptable to the mass of the Syrian population. Thenceforward relations 
with France worsened rapidly. A mixture of fighting and of tangled 
negotiations ended in mid- July with an ultimatum from General Gouraud, by 
which the Syrian Government was to accept the Mandate within four days, 
though Gouraud guaranteed that the Mandate would not take the form of 
annexation or of direct administration. Feisal fried to be conciliatory, and 
actually did accept the ultimatum. But his acceptance reached Gouraud too late. 
The French advanced. Final parleys were swept away by a tide of tribesmen 
and regulars who rushed out to give battle to the French. They were crushed, 
and on the 25th of July Damascus fell. 

Feisal took refuge in Palestine, and after a period in Europe, about a year 
later he was installed as King of Irak, under a promise from Great Britain of 
temporary mandatory aid, of accruing national responsibility and presently, of 
independence. All of which has been carried out, so that in Irak at least our 
engagements have been honoured and the proprietary rights of the Arabs 

The kingdom of Syria, on the other hand, never had much of a chance. It 
could not attain recognition of its independence from the Allies till it accepted 
the Mandates, and it could not accept the Mandates without abandoning the 
independence of two-thirds of its citizens. It could not suppress disorder till it 
was given help, and it was refused help till it had suppressed disorder. Inside 
that revolving vicious circle it turned and turned and was abraded away. 

I went back to Palestine after a month in Damascus and in other parts of the 
country. I found it, to say the least, in a more disturbed state than in March. The 
clash between Arabs and Jews had occurred in the interval. “The clash,” not “a 
clash;” for there was no trace of accident about the affair. The policy of the 
Home Government had ensured it. When it took place there was naturally an 
uproar amidst Zionists throughout the world, and in the House of Commons a 
number of questions were asked. The Zionists said, and some members of 
Parliament too, that the authorities in Palestine were responsible for the rioting 
and bloodshed because they had not taken proper police or military precautions 
either before or during the crisis. 

This was not the true case. The authorities in Palestine could not prevent an 
explosion which the Government in London had foreordained from the time of 
the Balfour Declaration. The Arabs would not have been mortals if they had 
remained quiescent with the signs of Zionist power increasing daily and the 

whole future, as they saw now, dedicated to its development. The authorities 
might have delayed the rioting by displays of force here and there for a while, 
but they could not have displayed force always and everywhere. The national 
feeling which manifested itself in the riots was universal, and would have found 
another vent if the Jerusalem outbreak of early April had been stifled. 

This outbreak began during the Nebi Moussa festival at Eastertide, and 
lasted sporadically from the 4th to the 8th. There was both fighting and looting. 
By the time the troops had established order five Jews had been killed and over 
two hundred of them wounded. Four Arabs were killed and twenty -one of them 
wounded. In comparison with what was happening in northern Syria and in 
Cilicia this was an inconsiderable business, but as it had occurred in Jerusalem, 
where strife is so repugnant, it made more noise. As the casualties show, the 
Jews suffered much more than the Arabs, but it was no one-sided massacre, and 
both parties were armed. As for its immediate origin, the Arabs were mainly, 
but not everywhere, the aggressors. The initial act sprang from or was 
accomplished against a Moslem procession, which was cheering for 
independence and for “Feisal our King.” 

The Arabs at the time repudiated the charge that they were on any occasion 
the aggressors, and it is probable that they would still repudiate it. But they 
might well have conceded the point. They would have acted to more advantage 
if they had not spent themselves upon the detail of happenings, but had declared 
that, while they were guilty of assaults upon the lives and the property of 
individuals, yet such things must occur when the life of their country itself was 
being continuously and covertly assaulted. For this was what was happening. 
Bi-nationalism, a status under which the Zionists were deemed as much the 
owners of an Arab land as the Arabs were, was being fed to them now in 
preliminary small doses. It would be fed to them like a deleterious drug weekly, 
monthly, yearly, in extending doses, till feebleness, then dependence on the 
drug, and finally assimilation with the will of the drug-givers ensued. 

A judicial Commission of Inquiry into the causes of the riots was hastily 
formed, with orders to report to the Foreign Office. This was called the Palin 
Commission, from the name of the general who presided over it. 

Besides the Palin Commission, the ordinary military justice set up courts to 
try various persons, Jews and Arabs, for offences leading to the riots. One trial 
made a great deal of stir, that of Mr. Vladimir Jabotinsky, who as Lieutenant 
Jabotinsky had shown such zeal in the creation of the Zionist Mule Corps for 
Gallipoli and the Jewish battalions of the Royal Fusiliers, (cf. Chapter XIV.) 
His own record as a soldier included a mention in dispatches for gallantry at the 
capture of a ford of the Jordan under enemy fire. 

He had organized in relative secrecy a “Self-Defence Corps” amidst the 
younger Jews, and he and others had procured arms for them, which had been 
used for the purpose the name of the coips indicated but had not, it was alleged, 
only been so used. In any event the existence of the Hagana, as it was named in 

Palestine: The Reality 


Hebrew, was an aggravation to the Arabs, a contribution to unrest, and a 
defiance of the law of the land, so Mr. Jabotinsky was condemned by the court 
to fifteen years’ penal servitude; a “savage sentence,” says Mr. Horace Samuel. 

But there was no great reality about this sentence. The trial was not so much 
a trial by law as a trial of strength between the forces represented by their 
champion, Jabotinsky, and the Army of Occupation. He flouted his judges by 
telling them to their faces in court that whatever sentence was given him would 
be quashed. To which they retaliated with the fifteen years. He also produced in 
evidence deciphered official documents which had been drafted in a code of 
sufficient importance for the Chief of Staff to wear suspended to his neck the 
key of the safe where the coding-memoranda were kept. (Some words of the 
Peel Report, dealing with this period, may be interpolated here. “It was obvious 
that the Jews had created a very efficient intelligence department, from which 
(as is indeed the case to-day) the Administration could keep little secret.” The 
frank admission about to-day is worth underlining.) 

Mr. Jabotinsky was quite correct. His imprisonment was changed quickly to 
detention in the second division for a political offence, which meant 
transference to the sea-coast at Acre, where he bathed and played tennis. I do 
not know that anyone would grudge these privileges to Mr. Jabotinsky, a 
straightforward man, free of the cant Zionist pretence of nourishing the Arabs 
by digesting them. 

Later he was sent to Egypt, and after six months was released, his sentence 
duly being quashed as he had said it would be. 

All these happenings had left the population of Palestine in a ferment. Its 
dissatisfaction had begun ripening to dangerous anger about two months before, 
when the Zionist Commission had tried to counter the Arabs’ first measures for 
political organization. An “Islamo-Christian Association” had been established 
to consolidate Arab action and as a counterpoise to the Zionist Commission 
itself. This of course was not at all to the taste of the Commission, which had 
grown increasingly arrogant under the direction (after the departure for home of 
Dr. Weizmann) of M. Ussischkin. M. Ussischkin came from Russia and had a 
Muscovite manner, was “by nature instinctively opposed to all things British” 
(de Haas). Under his aegis the Commission now demanded that the Chief 
Administrator should refuse the Islamo-Christian Association or other Arab 
gatherings the right of free speech. 

The new Association was proposing then to hold various meetings and had 
asked permission for this from the Chief Administrator, in accordance with 
regulations. The request was reasonable in itself, and was justified further by 
the quantity of meetings and of assemblies of all kinds which the Zionists had 
held up and down the land, from that earliest and memorable Jaffa meeting 
when Mr. Ormsby-Gore had preconized the “building-up of a Jewish nation in 
all its aspects in Palestine.” But the Commission none the less “strongly 
protested” against the Arabs being allowed equal right of public meeting. 

There was another Chief Administrator by now, Sir Louis Bols, who had 
been Allenby’s Chief of Staff in France. “A little, brave, quick, pleasant man,” 
Lawrence had called him, and might have added that he was extremely 
conscientious. He disregarded the Commission’s interfering protest, and the 
Arabs held their manifestations which, as might have been expected, “had a 
frankly anti-Jewish character” (Z.O.R.), heightened, of course, by the Zionist 
Commission’s endeavour to silence them. 

It is probable that the Arab manifestations would have had a still more 
frankly Jewish character and the riots might have been precipitated rather 
earlier if they had known all that was happening in England. Dr. Weizmann had 
presented a memorandum to Lord Curzon in which he proposed that some 
200,000 Jewish immigrants should be granted entrance to Palestine and that in 
particular Transjordania, as the country east of the Jordan was named then, 
should be peopled by 60,000 to 70,000 Jews from beyond the Caucasus range, 
meaningly described by him as “good fighters and colonists.” The proposal to 
introduce the warrior-husbandmen had not even the excuse that there already 
were Jewish holdings in Transjordan, which needed development and/or 
defence. In 1920 it is believed that one Jew lived in Transjordan. By 1923 the 
Jewish population had precisely doubled itself. 

After the Jerusalem disorders, Zionist proposals in London grew even more 
martial. Mr. Joseph Cowen, Chairman of the Zionist Federation and one of the 
drafting-overseers of the Balfour Declaration, at a London meeting declared 
that “the Jews would be glad to undertake the garrisoning of Palestine. Let the 
British people put us back there and they will find that the more Jewish they 
make Palestine the more British it will be.” This was a view which will have 
commended itself to Downing Street more than to Government House in 
Jerusalem. There had been serious complaints of the local Zionist recruits who 
did happen to be “garrisoning Palestine,” as part of the occupying force. They 
had been withdrawn from Haifa as a result of an affray with the Egyptian 
Labour Corps. 

Many of the men recruited in Palestine [ran the official account of the 
affair] regarded themselves as a Palestinian militia, and when ordered to 
Cyprus a large number went on a strike organized by a battalion soviet. 
This very unmilitary way of expressing their feelings does not appear to 
show that they considered themselves as British subjects. The authorities 
may find a way of satisfying the local patriotism of the Jewish volunteers 
without exciting the hostility of the Arab population, by establishing a 
depot and training-centre away from any large town, but it should be 
clearly indicated that soldiers are servants of the State and not their own 

It is not probable that any notice was taken of these recommendations. 
When I passed through Palestine (having been recalled home so that 1 might be 

Palestine: The Reality 


sent to Ireland), all the officers of the Administration whom 1 met complained 
of their impossible situation. The Home Government never listened to any 
request or recommendation sent to it. General belief was that London wished to 
force Sir Louis Bols to resign. He could not even wring from Whitehall any 
inkling of the policy which he was to pursue. The Home Government probably 
did not care to put its policy on paper. 

The Chief Administrator had an invidious lot, and the dignity of his post 
was destroyed, as the information not vouchsafed to him came regularly to the 
Zionist Commission. Sir Louis Bols made another protest to the Home 
Government that information was being supplied to the Commission which was 
withheld from the responsible ruling body in the Occupied Territory. This 
leakage of information, of course, may have been due less to Cabinet 
indiscretions than to the knowledge the Zionist Organization in London 
naturally held of a policy which it was helping to make. It passed along to the 
Commission the news of its own work. Sir Louis Bols may not have realized 
this when, sadly rather than impatiently, he asked that “at least equal reticence 
or equal confidence should have been shown to both the Administration and the 
Zionist Commission.” 

He had come into office anxious to govern with the utmost fairness, and the 
Zionists themselves agree that there were “indications that when assuming the 
duties of Chief Administrator his intentions were rather friendly, and he seemed 
quite prepared to support the Jewish element with perhaps the only exception of 
the Jewish battalions.” (Z.O.R.) But when he perceived that he was expected to 
run his Administration in harness with the coursers of the National Home, and 
when first he received hints, then was informed of requirements, and finally 
was presented with plain orders (as he was) from the Zionist Commission, his 
attitude necessarily changed. 

It is probable that he doomed himself and his Administration in mid-March, 
when he wrote home his comments upon a speech which had been made by Dr. 
Weizmann in London the month before at a meeting held in the Cannon Street 
Hotel. He felt it to be his duty to controvert several of Dr. Weizmann’ s 
assertions concerning Palestine, and to warn the future Mandatory Powers of 
the danger of accepting them as a true picture of the state of the country. 

“It must be understood,” he wrote, “that approximately 90 per cent of the 
population of Palestine is deeply anti -Zionist. This opposition comprises all 
Moslems and Christians and a not inconsiderable proportion of Jews.” 

He went on to explain that the cause of their opposition was in part religious 
and in part the fear that the “ancient dwellers of the land would eventually have 
to give place to Zionists who were backed by big financial concerns.” The 
Chief Administrator had tried to calm these fears by assuring the people that no 
forced land-sales would be permitted and that a guarantee would be demanded 
from the new owners, when land was voluntarily sold to them, that tenants and 

the peasantry employed thereon would not be disturbed and would continue in 
their employment. 

Sir Louis Bols in making these announcements had shown more 
acquaintance with equity than with the intentions of the Government, but this 
was hardly his fault. He continued now, in his communication for the benefit of 
the Mandatory Powers, by saying that if the policy outlined by Dr. Weizmann 
in Cannon Street were followed rather than the course he had just indicated, 
that is, if exclusively Jewish labour were employed and Government lands were 
handed over to the Zionist Organization, then the situation would become 
untenable. In words which deserve to be recorded because of their foresight he 
declared, “I wish to state clearly that if such a policy is proposed it is certain 
that a revolution would ensue which would result in the Jews being driven out 
of the land unless they are covered by powerful military forces of the 
Mandatory Power.” 

Great works such as the electrification of the country, the making of 
railroads and ports should be carried out, he added, by the Government of the 
country and not by one small section of the community, however rich it might 
be. If this course was not followed antagonism would be aroused beyond allay 
and the Zionist cause would suffer consequently. 

The policy of working hand in hand with the Arabs seems to be 
reversed by Dr. Weizmann’ s speech, and a desire is indicated to fight for 
the country economically [proceeded Sir Louis Bols]. I desire to impress 
my view that such an aim is not possible of achievement. The inhabitants 
of Palestine are not savages but comprise industrious labourers and well 
educated and exceedingly clever landowners and professional classes. 
These are men whose families have been in Palestine for centuries, who 
look to Great Britain, as she is the likely Mandatory Power, for fair 
treatment in every respect. In the conclusion of his speech Dr. Weizmann 
says that there is “a certain amount of Arab hostility to Zionism in 
Palestine.” I wish to emphasize the statement I have made that 90 per 
cent of the population of Palestine is deeply anti-Zionist. 

So the reader perceives that the Government was informed exactly of the 
situation in Palestine as it was. What the Crane-King Commission had reported, 
Sir Louis Bols affirmed in his turn. 

Here, then, is additional specific proof, to be set beside the Crane-King 
Report and other testimony, that for what Mr. Lloyd George and Lord Balfour 
and other ministers did in Palestine no excuse of ignorance of local conditions 
can be invoked. Excuses of this sort have appeared recently, an adroit form of 
apologia, which is masked as half-apologia. In the Peel Report there are touches 
of it. The statesmen are exculpated by being not quite exculpated. Their deeds 
are not concealed beneath suspiciously staring whitewash, but are dimmed with 
a greyish distemper which has the appearance of having been there always. The 

Palestine: The Reality 


special touch of the half-apologists is to name no names, but to give to the acts 
of individuals an impersonal value, saying that “the position in Palestine was 
not appreciated at the time the National Home was launched,” that “it was not 
realized then that Palestine was almost wholly Arab,” and so forth, nobody 
being specified as not appreciating or not realizing. 

No doubt in 1920 the British public was as ignorant of the balance of 
population in Palestine and of the sentiments of its inhabitants as it was of 
either of these matters in Azerbaijan or in Herzegovina. But the Prime Minister 
and his colleagues were by no means in the same boat as the general public. 
The only kind of ignorance they could have was that for which Balfour indeed 
was already notorious, studied and accomplished ignorance. Full information 
had been supplied to them of the exact constituents of the Holy Land’s 
population and of the rejection of the Zionist enterprise by 90 per cent of its 
people. The essential facts had been sent to them or made available for them by 
the head of their own government in Palestine and by an official Commission 
of the United States of America. They had been informed early, while the 
Mandate was unassumed, while the Turkish Treaty was unmade, while they 
themselves were uncommitted: and they had been informed later, with all the 
strength of a last hour warni